RAMS: The (11-4) Rams clinched the NFC West last Sunday defeating the (8-7) Titans, 27-23, in Tennessee and will likely rest their starters in the season finale against the 49ers.
Todd Gurley hurdled himself into MVP contention with his huge game against the Titans. It was Gurley’s best performance of the season, accumulating 276 total yards of offense and two touchdowns. One of his touchdowns, an 80-yard catch and run, was the longest play of his career.
Gurley is now leading the league with 2,093 total yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns, but he will most likely lose to Tom Brady in the MVP race if he doesn’t suit up on Sunday against the new look 49ers, who are on a four-game winning streak since Jimmy Garoppolo took over.
Gurley has 420 more rushing yards already than he had all last year. Gurley’s 788 receiving yards on the season is 273 more than his first two seasons combined. He has six receiving touchdowns in 15 games this year, and had none in his previous 29 games of his career.
Coach Sean McVay is a sure bet Coach of the Year in his debut. The 31-year-old football guru is looking like next offensive mastermind the Rams hoped he would blossom into in his first year as a head coach.
This week the Rams are playing for third or fourth best record in the NFC with the Vikings and the Eagles clinching the top two spots.
Coach McVay feels good about giving his star players a rest going into the playoffs.
"You don't ever take anything for granted, but knowing that you do have a home playoff game regardless of how things play out, this might provide an opportunity for us to get some guys healthy," McVay said. "That's a luxury that we want to try to take advantage of."
The Rams responded well after their Week 8 bye with a huge 57-17 victory over the Giants, so McVay is confident the extra bye week before the playoff push would be beneficial for his squad.
The Rams' biggest worry is finding a dependable kicker before the postseason since Greg Zuerlein will be unavailable until next year.
CHARGERS: The (8-7) Chargers squeaked out a 14-7 victory over the (5-10) Jets last Sunday. With the victory, and the Rams taking down the Titans, the Chargers now have a 41 percent chance of making it to the playoffs according to ESPN’s power index, up from 19 last week.
The Chargers offense never seemed to get in sync against a bad Jets defense who was missing key players. The Bolts are usually good against bad teams but not last Sunday.
Philip Rivers did his thing though, with 290 yards passing and a touchdown to his all-time favorite tight end, Antonio Gates. Gates caught a team-high six passes for 81 yards and only receiving touchdown.
The Hall of Fame tandem linked up in the end zone for the only score of the first half for either team. Gates’ reliability in the red zone will be counted on down the stretch if the Chargers expect to make an impact in the postseason. With Hunter Henry sidelined for the rest of the season, Gates will be the go-to tight end like he was for the past 14 years in San Diego.
The Chargers defense forced three turnovers in the game and kept their playoffs hopes alive. Los Angeles wide receiver Keenan Allen recorded his first career interception to end the first half and both Casey Hayward and Hayes Pullard III recovered fumbles.
If there was one thing the Chargers offense did well last Sunday, it would be that they protected the football.
Melvin Gordon rushed 19 times for 81 yards and a touchdown. Gordon added 47 yards on three receptions, but hurt his ankle. He missed practice Wednesday with his left ankle in a boot but said he feels good and should be ready to start against the (6-9)Raiders this Sunday though is still listed as day-to-day.
Gordon has 1,012 yards rushing and another 445 yards receiving. He has 12 total touchdowns on the year.
With Austin Ekeler nursing a broken hand and the uncertainty of Gordon’s ankle moving forward, the Chargers added running back Jalen Simmons to the practice squad on Wednesday.