The Los Angeles Rams head into the final game of the regular season with a playoff position locked up. The Rams would surely love to keep the sixth seed in the NFC, but when the only ramifications of a loss is to drop from the sixth seed to the seventh, keeping the starters healthy outweighs the risk of injury for head coach Sean McVay.
While I personally agree with keeping players like Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp on the bench and healthy for the playoffs, admittedly, it does sting a little that it’s in a game against the hated rival San Francisco 49ers. Understandably, there will always be some fans that may not like the decision to sit the starters with positioning on the line, and that could explain why confidence in the team dropped from 99% to 80% this week.
On the plus side, it does look like McVay will allow rookie WR Puka Nacua the chance to break the NFL’s rookie records for receptions and receiving yards in a single-season. Nacua is only four catches and 29 yards away from etching his name in history, and while he will play, if he’s able to break the records he would probably be pulled shortly after.
On Nacua’s usage, McVay said:
“I think you’d like to be able to see him get an opportunity to do something special and then be smart with him.”
No matter what happens Week 18, it’s an exciting time to be a Los Angeles fan as this year’s regular season comes to a close. The Rams have a young team, with superstars in the making on both sides of the ball and a full slate of draft picks and cap space heading into 2024 and beyond.
However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this season is not over yet and LA has a real chance to make a Super Bowl run now - even if critics in August never thought they’d be here.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Rams are the underdog team heading into San Francisco, but they’ve been viewed as the underdogs all season long, yet continue to show an uncanny ability to prove everyone wrong.
Backups or starters, it doesn’t matter, Rams fans know there’s more to a game against the Niners than just potential playoff positioning. Whether it’s for a Super Bowl berth or nothing at all, one thing I know as a fan of this team is LA will always be ready for a chance to hand the rival 49ers a loss, no matter what the stakes are.