Week 15 looked like a rebound spot against the suspect Eagles secondary and returning home from a sound defeat in Chicago for the Rams offense. However, it was a second straight game looking pedestrian at best for the Rams. Todd Gurley left the game multiple times with a knee injury and Jared Goff has looked like a shell of his in-rhythm and on-time self of late. The Rams are huge road favorites against the hapless Cardinals.
Commonly the highest salary on main slates, are you concerned about Todd Gurley getting rest against a middling-at-best opponent? Is there any fire to the smoke of the Rams passing game struggling in back-to-back games to have pause on by far the largest point spread for Week 16?
Commonly the highest salary on main slates, are you concerned about Todd Gurley getting rest against a middling-at-best opponent?
For sure. When Gurley came back into last week's game, Sean McVay seemed to scheme him away from contact. The Rams need a win to help secure a first-round bye, but it wouldn't be shocking if they elected to rest Gurley against such an inferior opponent. If he sits, we're looking at John Kelly chalk week.
Is there any fire to the smoke of the Rams passing game struggling in back-to-back games to have pause on by far the largest point spread for Week 16?
A little. Jared Goff has one touchdown against seven interceptions over his last three games. Gurley is banged up, and it's been at least a month since Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods were worth playing at their salaries. That said, I'm happy to build a few Rams stacks into my GPP portfolio. The fact we have to answer this question suggests many will hesitate to pull the trigger on LA's offense this week despite the fact they're implied by Vegas to score over 30 points.
James Brimacombe: There are plenty of concerns for Todd Gurley this week and the fact that this is the largest point spread on the weekend makes you think that there is a 50/50 shot that Gurley could be rested. The Rams still need to win to secure a first-round bye so this could be a case where Gurley dresses and if the Rams get up to a big lead by halftime he is out of the game after that. The fact that he was in and out of the game against the Eagles gives some hope that he will play but knowing what type of role he will play is a whole other discussion. Last time against the Cardinals in Week 2, Gurley rushed for three touchdowns and had 22 total touches for 73 total yards. In that very game the Rams got up 27-0 and Gurley sat out the fourth quarter.
Dan Hindery: The Rams are in a tough spot. It looks like a team with some guys who could use a rest before the playoffs. Gurley looks less than 100% and some of the veterans have been fading a bit. For example, 37-year old left tackle has had his three poorest games (according to PFF grades) of the season since Week 10. However, the Rams still have so much to play for down the stretch. A win on Sunday would give the Rams a 92% chance (according to the NY Times) of securing a first-round bye. A loss would drop their chances to 59%. Los Angeles is going to want to do anything it can to avoid having to play a tough Wild Card game and then go on the road to Chicago.
Unless Gurley’s injury is more serious than is being let on, I would be shocked if he isn’t out there for as many snaps as he can handle while the game is in doubt. There is certainly a risk that the Rams go up big early and Gurley doesn’t play much in the second half. That is what happened when the Rams blew out the Cardinals 34-0 earlier this Eason. But even in that scenario, Gurley has probably had a big hand in the Rams building the lead (he had 3 touchdowns in the previous matchup). If the injury news is positive, I wouldn’t be too scared off of Gurley due to the spot.
I see some reason for concern with the Rams pass offense. Cooper Kupp was Jared Goff’s security blanket and favorite target when they absolutely needed a completion. It isn’t too big of a shock that they aren’t quite the same passing offense without him.
Justin Howe: NFL players don’t like resting, especially in Week 16 matchups. His workload may slip or even vanish if the Rams jump ahead 27-3, but I would frankly be stunned if Gurley didn’t suit up. These guys value their playoff readiness, and they don’t feel good about watching key games in sweats.
I’m not worried about Goff’s viability, either. These swoons happen, and I have far more faith in the Rams’ first 11 games than the last three. I’ve seen Goff and company slowed by weather and tough personnel, but the Arizona Cardinals throw up neither obstacle. As Phil pointed out, this could be an ideal week for playing the Vegas favorites as GPP contrarians.
Will Grant: If the Rams were not playing Arizona this week, there might be cause for alarm. The NFL figured out that if you disrupt the timing of the offense, the Rams struggle. But Arizona is not going to be able to do that, and they need this ‘get right’ game to gain their confidence back. Even more of a concern is the Bears – who now hold the tie-breaker and if the Rams lose, the Bears can steal home field advantage. They HAVE to win this game. I don’t think Gurley’s the chalk play he usually is, but he will see plenty of action as the Rams will feed him the ball as often as possible to get out in front and stay there. Goff is a bit of a concern and I won’t have much ownership of him this week. I think he has decent upside, I won’t push ‘all in’ on him.