Are the Los Angeles Rams resting top players this week in an effort to avoid a postseason matchup with the Minnesota Vikings?
Heading into their Week 11 showdown with the Minnesota Vikings, the Los Angeles Rams were firing on all cylinders on both offense and defense. However, once they stepped foot onto the field at Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium, it seemed as though they met their match in a talented Vikings team.
Minnesota defeated Los Angeles that week by a final score of 24-7 and further validated the popular saying, “defense wins championships.” The Vikings’ defense held the Rams’ so-called “explosive” offense to just 254 total yards and a season-low 45 rushing yards in their Week 11 matchup.
On the offensive side of the ball, Minnesota was dominant on both the ground and through the air. Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen caught 9 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown while Minnesota running back Latavius Murray led the team with 95 rushing yards and two scores.
Fast forward to Week 17 and Los Angeles is apparently going to rest some of their top players during Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. Among those not expected to suit up for the Rams are quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
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It just seems a bit odd for Los Angeles to do something like this when a win this weekend would lock them up as the third seed in the NFC and pit them against whichever team ends up in the playoffs as the conference’s sixth seed. But a loss on Sunday to the 49ers would most likely drop the Rams to the fourth seed in the NFC postseason bracket.
Why would Los Angeles want a lower seed in the playoffs? Well, it could be to avoid facing Minnesota for the second time this year.
As the NFC’s fourth seeded team, the Rams would have a greater chance of facing the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round than if they entered the playoffs as the third seed. Los Angeles has clearly noticed the Eagles looking like a beatable team since they lost quarterback Carson Wentz for the rest of the year back in Week 14.
They would likely deny this accusation if anyone were to ask them about it being true, but the Rams may be strategically positioning themselves for what they believe to be an easier path of getting to the Super Bowl. A path that does not include heading to U.S. Bank Stadium before the NFL’s final game of the playoffs.