Well this about does it.
The Los Angeles Rams are up north to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 in the penultimate game of the 2019 regular season. Barring a miraculous course of events to finish things out, it’s the next-to-last game for the Rams as they’re likely to be watching the 2020 NFL Playoffs rather than participating in them.
That sets up a strange motivation here for the two teams.
For the Rams, they’ve got the aspect of fighting for a sliver of mathematical hope for the playoffs while also trying to maintain the professionalism of playing your best regardless of the circumstances. As Rams Head Coach Sean McVay said this week:
I think we’ve got a lot of guys that love football – I love football, our coaches do. Really, you cherish these opportunities to go compete. You’re only guaranteed 16 of them, we’ve got two left for sure. No matter how this thing shakes out, I think what we’ve talked about is you’re not going to have any regrets as long as you go for it. You go compete to the best of your ability and I trust that’s what we’re going to do. At least, you’re saying, maybe you give yourself a chance, but even if we (didn’t) even had a chance of continuing to play afterwards, we’ve got an opportunity to go get our ninth win. Like I said the other day, there’s a lot of prideful guys. When you love what you do and you love the people you’re doing it with, you want to make sure you do right by them.
For the Niners, they’re in the thick of the NFC playoff picture. Right now, they lost their Week 10 game to the Seattle Seahawks which puts them second in the NFC West and thus fifth in the NFC seedings despite sharing an 11-3 record with the top 3 seeds. The fight for a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs is paramount for everyone in the mix not named the Dallas Cowboys.
So here we go. Two games left. Not a ton to fight for.
Let’s see if the Rams look like that’s the case or if they want to end 2019 on an upswing.