The Rams have clinched a playoff berth with their division title so now there isn’t a ton of reason to force their starters to play this Sunday versus the division rival 49ers.
Sean McVay told reporters in his press conference today that he will probably sit all of his playoff team’s starters for their New Years Eve contest versus the San Francisco 49ers.
This may upset some people who want to see the Rams get a nice win in the last home game of the regular season but it doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Rams to risk injury to one of their starters that could cripple their playoff hopes before they even play in a playoff game. The one reason to play your starters in this one would be to retain the number three seed that they could lose to the New Orleans Saints but overall it doesn’t really even matter and might actually benefit the Rams depending on who they end up playing.
Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers are on a tear, riding a four-game winning streak as they look to finish the season 6-10 after losing their first nine games. It’s improbable but it’s what happens when you acquire a QB like Garoppolo mid-season. The Niners will definitely look to head into the off-season on a high note winning five-straight so the Rams can expect a team they barely beat 41-39 with Brian Hoyer to be a lot better this time around.
As for the Rams two things to watch out this weekend if they indeed sit their starters. First off, the Rams would likely have an increased possibility of playing the Nick Foles-led struggling Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the playoffs as opposed to a brutal match-up in Minnesota versus the Vikings. On top of that the Rams would get a prime chance to find out what exactly they have in backup third-round QB Sean Mannion. The fact that it’s no guarantee Mannion is on the roster after this season is a reason but also it’s important to go back and remember what Matt Flynn did the year the Packers sat Aaron Rodgers. Flynn threw six touchdowns and built up his stock so much that he received a hefty deal from the Seahawks. The Rams however, do not have to worry about Mannion walking in free agency so they could actually use a potential dominant performance to shop Mannion for a draft pick or two. That is something to seriously ponder…
Stickin’ with Ficken
During today’s press conference McVay confirmed that the team will stick with kicker Sam Ficken this week against the 49ers. He was sure to emphasize the trust he has in him. Whether or not he is able to come through this weekend is another story but for now Ficken is the guy and likely the guy moving into the Rams first playoff game since 2004.