Los Angeles Rams
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Rams strive for first-round playoff bye
The Los Angeles Rams got back on track on Sunday with a 31-9 win over the Cardinals. It did much more than snap a two-game losing streak - the first for the Rams under Sean McVay - it also meant maintaining their grip on the second seed in the NFL playoffs and a first-round bye.
In order to keep control of it, the Rams have to beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in their season finale or hope the Chicago Bears lose to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Rams will leave nothing to chance and expect nothing but the best punch from the 49ers.
"I expect a great football game. Just with my history and my background with (49ers head coach) Kyle (Shanahan), I know what a great coach he is and what great coaches they have on their offensive, defensive staff and then their special teams coordinator Richard Hightower," said Rams head coach Sean McVay. "Then, they've got players that are great competitors. It's sound systems, great coaches. They've got some really, really good players that continue to compete hard and play for each other. So, this is something that we can't afford to take lightly."
The Rams know what's at stake. So don't expect any looking ahead to the playoffs.
"It's very important for us to come out ready to go. Continue to carry some momentum that we were able to establish from yesterday's game into this week of preparation and then leading into our final home game of the regular season at the Coliseum," said McVay. "Also, our final division game. To be able to wrap up the division - try to stay unbeaten in the division this year would be a great accomplishment. But most importantly, it's coming away and trying to go 1-0 this week. We know that if we're able to do that, then that means that we get a first-round bye."
It was also nice to put the two-game losing streak to rest.
"You don't want to lose two in a row, and that was the first time that we had to go through that," quarterback Jared Goff said. "I don't think it was any different than losing one in a row the way we responded. We respond like we always do and we knew we had to play well to win today and I thought we practiced extremely well throughout the week. Especially late in the week on Friday. We had a great day and just did a great job. We got back to our ways offensively and defensively. Today was the complete game."
The Rams are unsure if Todd Gurley II will be able to play. The Pro Bowl running back sat out the Cardinals game with a knee injury and the Rams will monitor him over the course of the week before deciding if he'll play against the 49ers.
Said McVay, "We want to do what's best for Todd most importantly and what's best for Todd is also what's best for our football team. We don't want to do anything where we're putting him in harm's way, if we feel like it could be something where we're putting him at risk. But if he's getting back, if he's feeling good, then the anticipation is getting him ready to go. But we're just going to take this one day at a time right now. It was good to see what those guys did yesterday, but nothing changes with regards to our approach with Todd. If we can get him ready to go, then that's what we'll do and if not, then we'll just kind of play that by ear."
If Gurley can't go, expect another heavy dose of C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals after the Rams signed him last week.
"I think he sees things well. I think when he puts his foot in the ground, he's decisive, levels off, he finishes falling forward," said McVay. "I think he had some tough runs in some short-yardage situations as well that were big-time conversions for us. And then he was able to pop the long one when we were backed up right there, but he did a great job, and there are certainty things we can learn from. The game isn't too big. This is a guy who has played a big-time role on a Super Bowl team, led that game in rushing and did an outstanding job. So, it's good to be able to have C.J., and we are excited for him."
SERIES HISTORY: 138th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series 68-66-3. The Rams beat the 49ers earlier this year, 39-10, in Santa Clara.