By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley runs against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, left, and Chicago Bears defensive back Sherrick McManis meet on the field after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Rams won 17-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is pushed out of bounds at the goal line by Chicago Bears cornerback Buster Skrine during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is tackled by Chicago Bears strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey breaks up a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Todd Gurley was told by Rams coach Sean McVay before Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears that he was going to be a focal point of Los Angeles’ offense.
Gurley rose to the occasion and delivered his best game of the season.
The All-Pro running back had a season-high 133 scrimmage yards and scored a touchdown to lead the Rams to a 17-7 victory to help them keep pace in the NFC playoff race.
“We had a bunch of guys down and I was able to step up,” Gurley said. “It felt like the old Todd. I was glad I was able to go out there and take advantage of what I got.”
On a night when the Rams were missing two of their starting receivers and had a reworked offensive line, McVay reigned things in. Los Angeles (6-4) ran it on 65.4% of its plays (34 of 52). That is the highest run percentage in McVay’s three seasons as coach and only the fourth time they have gone to ground more than 60% of the time.
Gurley led the way with a season-high 25 carries. His 97 rushing yards also tied for his most this year.
“What I loved the most about what Todd did was after we put the first carry on the ground he didn't flinch,” McVay said. “He came back, had some good, tough, physical runs, made some good catches out of the backfield and he was a big-time contributor tonight.”
Jared Goff was 11 of 18 for 173 yards and an interception with many of his completions coming off play action.
The Bears (4-6) ran 22 more plays than the Rams but averaged only 3.6 yards. Mitchell Trubisky was 24 of 43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and interception. Trubisky injured his right hip on the last drive of the first half but didn’t come out until late in the fourth quarter, when Chase Daniel came in.
“I was just all arm in the second half pretty much,” Trubisky said. “Just trying to fight though the pain and trying to make the throws. I still felt like I was still putting the ball in some pretty good spots. Just couldn’t move around or couldn’t buy time.”
Gurley came in averaging 53.5 rushing yards per game, but had 63 in the first half, including three carries of 10 yards or more. After Greg Zuerlein opened the scoring with a 38-yard field goal early n the second quarter, Gurley put the Rams up 10-0 with 3:28 remaining on a 1-yard drive up the middle.
Gurley’s TD was set up when Goff connected with Cooper Kupp for a 50-yard gain. Kupp beat Buster Skrine up the left sideline and hauled in the pass at the 15 before he fumbled going out of bounds at the 1. It appeared as if Kupp might have fumbled it at the pylon, which would have been a Chicago touchback.
“When we're at our best is when we're running the ball well. There have been games when we haven't and we've overcome it and thrown it but that's not usually how we want to do it,” Goff said.
After Tarik Cohen’s third-quarter touchdown catch brought Chicago to 10-7, the Rams put it out of reach with 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter on Malcolm Brown’s 5-yard run.
Chicago got to 10-7 on its first drive of the second half when Trubisky connected with Cohen for a 12-yard score. Cohen beat linebacker Cory Littleton in single coverage to score his third touchdown of the season.
WALKING THE LINE
Goff’s 11 completions and 18 attempts were career lows when starting a game, but the game plan was effective. Chicago’s Khalil Mack was held without a tackle or sack.
A lot of credit goes to the reworked offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was the only constant with Austin Blythe moving from left guard to center. Austin Corbett, who was acquired last month from Cleveland, got his first Rams start at left guard with rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans on the right side. Edwards got his fourth start at guard and Evans his first at tackle.
“It’s a testament to those guys how much they prepared,” Whitworth said. “You put four new guys at four new spots in the NFL and you lose 50-0. These guys came out and executed. That’s what good teams do and that’s what we’ve got to do more of.”
The Bears drove inside the Rams 35 on their first three series but had nothing to show for it. Eddy Piñeiro missed 48- and 47-yard field goal attempts and Chicago turned it over on downs on the second series.
“We’ve been struggling with drives, getting going, and we finally get a couple first downs,” Nagy said. “And now it might not sound great, but we were in position to kick a field goal to start the game and we missed it. And those are the ones I really wish we could have.”
Piñeiro began the season 9 of 10 on field goals but has missed three straight and four of his last seven. Nagy said after the game that he continues to have faith in his kicker.
Rams: WR Robert Woods was listed as a surprise inactive before the game due to a personal issue. Woods is second on the team in receptions (45) and had seven catches for 61 yards in last year’s game at Chicago. Brandin Cooks (concussion) also was inactive,
Bears: RT Bobby Massie suffered a back injury during the second half. He didn’t return.
Bears: Host the New York Giants (2-8) next Sunday.
Rams: Host the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) next Monday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) missed his second straight practice this week on Thursday. Smith-Schuster is unlikely to play again this weekend against the Cardinals and could be sidelined again in Week 15 if his knee injury does not improve. In an offense now run by quarterback Devlin Hodges, Smith-Schuster won't be anything more than a low-upside WR3 if he's active during the fantasy playoffs. James Washington has become a WR3 in Smith-Schuster's absence, but a projected low target share doesn't bode well for his chances of helping fantasy owners. Diontae Johnson (illness), who returned to a full practice on Thursday, will be the No. 2 behind Washington.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (knee) and tight end Jimmy Graham (calf, wrist) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Williams is a new addition to the injury report for Week 14 against the Redskins, so we'll have to keep an eye on his status on Friday. Williams has maintained RB3 value for fantasy owners alongside Aaron Jones, but his status may be in doubt this weekend. Jones would have RB1 upside if he has this backfield all to himself in a great matchup. Graham should be able to play, but he's become an unattractive touchdown-dependent TE2 with a low target floor. He hasn't scored since Oct. 20 and has a combined four catches the last three games.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (ankle) and wide receivers Deebo Samuel (shoulder) and Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) are practicing in full on Thursday. Breida is the big one, as he hasn't played since Nov. 11 against the Seahawks. His return will make it hard to trust anyone in San Fran's backfield, which includes Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. Jeffery Wilson could be a healthy scratch with Breida back in Week 14 to face the Bills in a tough matchup. Samuel and Sanders are good to go as well. Samuel has become the better fantasy wideout over Sanders, but the rookie is still a boom/bust WR3 for fantasy owners in this run-first offense.
Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown (calf) was limited in practice on Thursday. Brown is a new addition to the injury report for Week 14 against the Raiders, so his status on Friday will be worth watching. The 22-year-old rookie has been solid in his first season, catching 34 passes for 626 yards and four touchdowns, but he just doesn't see consistent targets in this run-first offense. He'll be on the WR3/4 borderline as a boom-or-bust play if he's active. If he sits out, Corey Davis will be more attractive as a WR4/flex in the first round of the fantasy playoffs.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. Smith has posted nine catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns for the whole season and hasn't seen more than three targets in a game yet. He's not even close to fantasy relevance at this point and will now face the league's best pass defense. Leave Smith on the waiver wire.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) and kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee) did not practice on Thursday. Hilton is holding out hope to play again this year, but at this point there's probably a greater chance that he's put on Injured Reserve. Zach Pascal is the team's top wideout with Hilton sidelined, and he has streaming appeal this weekend against a weak Tampa secondary. Marcus Johnson and Parris Campbell (hand) could fill out three-receiver sets. Don't count on Hilton the rest of the way. Vinatieri might find a similar fate as Hilton after the team claimed Chase McLaughlin on Wednesday. He's unlikely to play this weekend and has been a disaster in 2019 with 14 missed kicks. McLaughlin might be worth a flier the rest of the way in deeper leagues.
Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) was added to the Week 14 injury report against the Bills. He got in a limited practice on Thursday. It's not the first time Brown has been added the injury report midweek as the Ravens try to play it safe with their speedy deep threat. The 22-year-old rookie has the skills to get behind any defense for a long touchdown play, but his snaps have been heavily limited in his first year and he doesn't draw enough targets to be a realistic weekly fantasy commodity. Brown hasn't gone over 100 yards since the season opener and had only two targets last week. He'll be a boom/bust WR4 if he plays. Willie Snead, Miles Boykin and Mark Andrews would see more targets if Brown is forced to sit out.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that the team isn't ruling out wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) for Week 14 against the Lions. "Hes frustrated. I think hes got a good opportunity this week (to play), so well see. Hes working really hard. He obviously wants to get out there with his guys. Hes a great competitor. ... When he's ready, he's ready," Zimmer said. Thielen has yet to practice this week, however, so fantasy owners shouldn't be banking on him playing against Detroit. If he does suit up, though, he'll have WR2 upside in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. Stefon Diggs also has high-end WR2 upside regardless of whether Thielen plays. Kyle Rudolph and Olabisi Johnson won't have as much appeal if Thielen returns.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said that he expects running back Dalvin Cook (chest) to play in Week 14 against the Lions and be close to 100 percent. Cook left the Monday night game against the Seahawks and didn't return, but he said shortly after that he planned on playing this Sunday, and he's been limited in practices so far this week. Barring a late setback, Cook will be active and will be a high-end RB1 in a great matchup against Detroit. Cook ranks fifth in the NFL with 1.046 yards on the ground. Backup Alexander Mattison could see more change-of-pace work behind Cook this week, but he's still tough to trust for standalone value.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (hand) returned to a full practice on Thursday. Mack has been sidelined since Nov. 17, but he's well on his way to returning to action in Week 14 against the Buccaneers. In a tough matchup against Tampa's defensive front and possibly at risk of sharing touches with Jonathan Williams, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, Mack will be more of a low-end RB2 this weekend if he makes his way back. Rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell (hand) has practiced in full the last two days as well, making it likely he makes his return this weekend. He should be in three-wide sets with Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson, but Campbell is a fantasy dart throw the rest of the way in this run-first offense.
Carolina Panthers interim head coach Perry Fewell said the tight end position will be a committee approach this week with Greg Olsen (concussion) unlikely to play. The committee will include Chris Manhertz, Ian Thomas and Alex Armah. Thomas is the best bet of the bunch after he posted 36 catches for 333 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie last year with Olsen missing time due to injury. He has only five receptions (nine targets) for 28 yards in 2019, though, with Olsen staying healthy up until now. Thomas is the best bet of this group as a TE2 streamer, but he won't be a strong fantasy option if he sees limited snaps. If you own Olsen, you need to look for other options.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. Ginn has been a feast-or-famine deep-threat this year. He owns the highest yards per reception mark on the Saints but will play a 49ers Defense that allows the fewest pass plays of 20 yards or more. The 34-year-old is coming off a catch-less game and hasn't caught more than three passes since Week 1. Ginn should be benched, or left on the waiver wire, for the fantasy playoffs.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (hamstring) returned to practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. The Titans are just resting Henry early in the week. He's been the best running back in the NFL in the last three games, running for well over 100 yards in each contest and totaling five touchdowns in that span on the ground. He'll get another great matchup in the Raiders in Week 14. Henry is a must-start fantasy commodity in the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown (undisclosed) left practice early after stretching with an undisclosed ailment. Wideout Adam Humphries (ankle) also missed practice for the second straight day. Brown's situation is worth monitoring the rest of the week. He would be a likely candidate to sit out in Week 14 against the Raiders if he can't get back to practice on Friday. With Humphries also on the wrong side of questionable for this weekend, it could be Tajae Sharpe, Cody Hollister and Kalif Raymond behind Corey Davis in the receiving game. Only Davis would be worth fantasy consideration as a WR4/flex against Oakland.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (shoulder) and tight end Austin Hooper (knee) are both practicing again on Thursday, which is a good sign for their availability in Week 14 against the Panthers. Jones missed the Thanksgiving game and Hooper has missed the last three contests, so getting them both back would be excellent news for quarterback Matt Ryan. Despite not scoring since Sept. 22, Jones will return to being a high-end WR1 if he's active. He had six catches for 91 yards against Carolina in the first meeting on Nov. 17. Hooper has been a breakout star this year with 56 receptions for 608 yards and six touchdowns, so he'll be a must-start TE1 if he's back this Sunday.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas will face the stingy San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. The 49ers have allowed only 134.2 passing yards per game this year, best in the NFL. Despite this, one receiver has posted at least 50 yards or scored a touchdown in eight games against the 49ers this year. Considering how involved Thomas is, he should be able to eclipse 50 yards. He has the lowest upside of virtually any WR1 this week and has some risk, given that Drew Brees may struggle to put up good numbers. Still, Thomas has been the best fantasy asset at wide receiver this year. It's realistic to expect him to at least reach 15 fantasy points, even against this defense.
Oakland Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs (shoulder) wasn't seen at the start of practice on Thursday. Jacobs revealed on Tuesday that he's been playing through a fractured shoulder since Week 7, so back-to-back missed practices are now more concerning for anyone that owns Jacobs. Despite his injured shoulder, Jacobs has remained productive in his first season and is fourth in the NFL with 1,061 rushing yards in 2019. He'll be a bit more of a risky RB1 this weekend if he suits up, but his fantasy owners will have their minds more at ease if Jacobs returns to practice on Friday. If he cannot play this weekend, Deandre Washington would be the obvious plug and play, with Jalen Richard mixing in on passing downs.
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (knee), who revealed he's dealing with an MCL injury, is in doubt for Week 14 against the Texans. "I'm already undersized. When you take away exotic movements that make me who I am it changes the type of player I am. I have to get that back to go out and play. If I don't have that back then I need to take time to get that right," Miller said. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean he'll play this weekend. Another Miller absence would be great news for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and the whole offense. Even if Miller suits up, the Broncos Defense should be avoided in fantasy.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead, who leads the team with 10 sacks this year, walked off the practice field on Thursday with an undisclosed injury. Armstead's 10 sacks in 2019 are more than his combined total (9.5) in his previous four seasons. The Niners pass rush has been a strength of their defense all year, but they've had key injuries in recent weeks, although Dee Ford (hamstring) is on track to return after missing two games. Armstead has played 73 percent of the defense's snaps this year on the edge and inside. Solomon Thomas would likely replace Armstead if needed. Drew Brees and the Saints offense would receive a boost if Armstead cannot play.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. San Francisco's defense ranks 22nd against the run despite being the best in the league against the pass, presenting Murray with a good matchup. The problem is, he's seen a steady decrease in snaps and touches over the last three games, including his second-lowest snap total of the season last week, 13. This usage makes Murray nothing more than flex play in deep leagues, even in a more run-friendly matchup.