Thu Dec 27 3:43pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Players: Cam Newton, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Jerick McKinnon, Raheem Mostert, C.J. Anderson, Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, George Kittle, Nick Mullens, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson, Dante Pettis, Patrick Mahomes
File-This Dec. 23, 2018, file photo shows San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watching players warm up before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Santa Clara, Calif. Weve been disappointed in our year, but we also know this isnt ending for us, Shanahan said. We're trying to build something and trying to turn this place around. We've got a lot of guys in here who want to be a part of that. Players, coaches, personnel guys. So even though this year is coming to an end for us, we know it has a lot to do with next year, and guys are trying to prove they want to be a part of that. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Although the Los Angeles Rams already wrapped up their second straight NFC West title four weeks ago, they're embracing the chance to rub it in.
The Rams (12-3) will go for a six-game sweep of their three divisional opponents Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers (4-11). A win also clinches the No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye, leaving Los Angeles with no shortage of motivation heading into the Coliseum.
''That's huge to show that,'' Rams quarterback Jared Goff said of the potential sweep. ''To truly win the division with our record, but really win the division with our games against our division opponents, to be 6-0 would be saying something, for sure. That really means more.''
West Coast supremacy matters to everyone associated with the Rams during the franchise's quest to rebuild its LA fan base heading into a new stadium in 2020.
The Rams are 9-2 against San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona since coach Sean McVay took over last season, and they've only lost once in a game that mattered. McVay rested his starters for a 34-13 season-finale loss to the Niners last year, likely depriving Todd Gurley of the NFL rushing title and possibly affecting Los Angeles' momentum heading to the postseason.
San Francisco won't get a break this weekend: Chicago could steal the Rams' first-round bye if the Bears beat Minnesota and the Rams lose to the Niners, so Los Angeles has every reason to not let up.
''It would say a lot,'' McVay said of the Rams' potential NFC West sweep. ''To be able to accomplish that at home would mean a lot, because there's three tough division opponents that we go against twice a year. To be able to do that, and then what that also means is being able to secure a first-round bye, that's a big deal.''
While Gurley could miss his second straight game with a minor knee injury, the Rams likely will be using every other healthy player against the Niners, whose lengthy list of injury absences includes running back Matt Breida and receiver Dante Pettis.
The 49ers are wrapping up their fourth consecutive losing season and their fifth straight non-playoff season since making their third straight NFC title game in January 2014, but coach Kyle Shanahan remains optimistic and focused heading into another meeting with McVay, his friend and fellow offensive mastermind.
''We've been disappointed in our year, but we also know this isn't ending for us,'' Shanahan said. ''We're trying to build something and trying to turn this place around. We've got a lot of guys in here who want to be a part of that. Players, coaches, personnel guys. So even though this year is coming to an end for us, we know it has a lot to do with next year, and guys are trying to prove they want to be a part of that.''
Here are more things to watch in the season finale:
Aaron Donald has an outside chance to make history. The Rams' dominant defensive tackle is three sacks shy of matching Michael Strahan's NFL record of 22+ sacks. That's a tall order for the undersized lineman, but Donald tends to record his sacks in bunches, getting two or more sacks in seven games while going without a sack in six games. He got three last week against Arizona, and he got a whopping four in the Rams' first meeting with the Niners this season. With even two sacks in the finale, he would be the second player to record eight multi-sack games in a season, joining Reggie White in 1987.
San Francisco tight end George Kittle heads into the final game in position to set a record for the most prolific season ever at the position. Kittle has 1,228 yards receiving this season and needs 100 to pass Rob Gronkowski (2011) for most ever in a season by a tight end. Kittle is not alone in pursuit, with Kansas City's Travis Kelce even closer with 1,274 yards.
Even if Gurley doesn't sit out, the Rams might give some of his workload to veteran C.J. Anderson, who is fitting right in with his new team. The sixth-year pro rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in his Rams debut last week at Arizona.
Nick Mullens has impressed his coaches in his half-season as starter. Mullens' 1,995 yards passing are the third most since the merger through seven career games, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Cam Newton. He also has thrown for at least 220 yards in every start, tied for the longest streak in San Francisco history behind a nine-gamer for Joe Montana in 1985-86. ''He's played very well and gotten better, to me, each game he's played,'' Shanahan said. ''It's just about taking it to another level. How much better can you get? How much more consistent can you get?''
The Niners will finish their season with their fourth-string running back carrying the load. Starter Jerick McKinnon tore up his knee a week before the opener, third-stringer Raheem Mostert broke his arm on Nov. 1 and now Breida is out with another ankle injury. Jeff Wilson Jr. has 314 yards from scrimmage the past four games as Breida has been in and out of the lineup with the bad ankle.
Free-agent TE Eric Tomlinson (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the New England Patriots Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay pulled in five catches (nine targets) for 121 yards in the loss to the Packers on Monday night. Johnson continues to be involved heavily, and with at least eight looks from quarterback Matthew Stafford in each game this season, the 25-year-old has established himself as a top fantasy wideout in 2019. The Lions will face a tough Vikings Defense in Week 7, but Golladay should continue to retain his must-start tag moving forward.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts in the loss to the Packers on Monday. After accumulating at least 20 carries throughout his last two games, Johnson took a step in the wrong direction, and had he not scored, this performance would have been considered another failure. With just three total touchdowns on the year to go along with a subpar 3.3 yards per carry, Johnson's outlook doesn't look favorable against a tough Vikings Defense in Week 7.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford finished with 265 yards on 18-for-32 passing in the loss to the Packers on Monday. The veteran still played relatively well despite failing to throw a touchdown and had it not been for rookie mistakes from tight end T.J. Hockenson, the story would have been different. With Week 6 in the books, things will get tougher for Stafford against a tough Vikings Defense on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham pulled in just two of his five targets for 17 yards during the Monday night win over the Lions. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) both missing some time in this one, fantasy managers were hoping for an increase in production. That did not happen. If Davante Adams (toe), Allison, or Valdes-Scantling miss more time moving ahead, look for Graham to see a slight uptick in looks from Aaron Rodgers. However, continue to expect the worst and hope for the best from week-to-week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with two catches for 48 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. Valdes-Scantling would briefly exit this one after injuring his leg but would return to haul in a 46-yard catch to offset his lack of fantasy progress up to that point. With Davante Adams (toe) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) potentially not playing against the Raiders on Sunday, the 25-year-old could see an increased role in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) hauled in three catches (seven targets) for 40 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. After leading the way in looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 25-year-old would exit the game prematurely in the second half. He did not return. With Allison's status for Sunday's showdown with the Raiders in question, fantasy managers will want to monitor his progress throughout the week.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams ran for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with four catches in the win over the Lions. After Aaron Jones fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score, Williams was inserted and made the most of it. Though the 24-year-old will likely continue as the No. 1 option out of the backfield, Williams may have some value against the Raiders on Sunday. If Davante Adams (toe), Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest), or Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) aren't able to suit up in Week 7, look for Jones to get more looks as a receiver, with Williams coming in for relief, especially on rushing downs.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones ran for 47 yards on 11 carries in addition to four receptions for 13 yards in the win over the Lions. It was a much different performance than the four-touchdown outing that Jones had against the Cowboys in Week 5, and while it wasn't a horrible performance, he did fumble and drop a wide-open, 33-yard toss from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score. Jamal Williams did get some touches, rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with a few receptions after Jones hit the sidelines, but expect the 24-year-old to reclaim his role as the No. 1 option against the Raiders in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 22-for-39 for 283 yards and a touchdown in the narrow win over the Lions on Monday night. Though he did throw an interception, it was an acceptable performance for the signal-caller who was without top receiver Devante Adams (toe), while also dealing with the in-game losses of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest). Despite the injuries on the offensive end, Rodgers' outlook against the Raiders in Week 7 is still promising.
Green Bay Packers TE Marcedes Lewis ended with two catches for 50 yards on two targets in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions.
Fantasy Spin: Lewis outperformed starter Jimmy Graham, who converted just two of his five targets. Neither is particularly attractive from a fantasy perspective outside of deeper leagues heading into Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders.
Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with two catches and 48 yards in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions. He left the game briefly due to an undisclosed injury, but was able to return and finish.
Fantasy Spin: Valdes-Scantling made a highlight-reel catch in the victory, but it was Allen Lazard who actually found the end zone while stepping up for Geronimo Allison, who left injured. MVS might operate as the No. 1 wideout in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders if Allison and Davante Adams are each sidelined.
Green Bay Packers RB Jamaal Williams ran 14 times for 104 yards in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions, and he had four grabs for 32 yards and a touchdown. His last run was almost a touchdown, as the Lions were going to allow him to score so they could get the ball back, but he gave himself up at the 1-yard line rather than score.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy owners can't complain too much, as he hit triple digits and had the receiving score, but the selfless play at the end cost them some points. He picked up the slack with Aaron Jones having a forgettable game. The Packers host the Raiders in Week 7.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones rushed 11 times for 47 yards with a fumble lost in Week 6 against the Detroit Lions. He also had four grabs for 13 yards on seven targets, but he dropped a sure touchdown downfield, too.
Fantasy Spin: Jones had a giant performance in Dallas last week, but he fell back to Earth in a big way in this one, and Jamaal Williams took advantage and stepped up his play. Jones remains a decent RB2 or flex fantasy option heading into Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders as he looks to bounce back.
Detroit Lions S Tavon Wilson posted five total tackles with a fumble recovery in the Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Oct. 14.
Green Bay Packers LB Preston Smith managed four total stops with 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hit in the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions.
Green Bay Packers DE Za'Darius Smith posted five total stops with a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit in the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers completed 24-of-39 passes for 283 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions while running for 10 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers should have had a touchdown to Aaron Jones, who dropped a pass while he was wide open and headed for a score. He was also dealing with a banged up receivers corps, losing Geronimo Allison, while Davante Adams was sidelined for a second straight game. Still, he worked through it and had a nice fantasy line. The Packers will look to keep it going against the Oakland Raiders in Week 7.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola (chest) was able to play in the Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers and he finished with a grab for six yards on his only target.
Fantasy Spin: Amendola was back and healthy enough to play, but he did next to nothing. Fantasy owners, even in deeper PPR leagues, cannot trust him until he starts to show more consistency. The Lions host the Vikings in Week 7.
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall had just one catch and one target in the Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers and it was good for a 58-yard reception.
Fantasy Spin: Hall obviously needs more targets and production before he can be relied upon outside of deeper fantasy leagues. The Lions host the Vikings in Week 7.