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.
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.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (shoulder) has been ruled out for Week 14 against the Cardinals despite getting in some limited practice this week. It will be his third straight missed game, and fantasy owners shouldn't be holding out much hope that he can help you the rest of the way if you've made the fantasy playoffs. A Pro Bowler in 2018, Conner has disappointed with 390 rushing yards and five missed games. Benny Snell Jr. should continue to carry the load on early downs in Conner's absence. He'll be an upside RB3 in the good matchup with Arizona, but Jaylen Samuels should continue to see more work in the passing game.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis (knee) was back at practice on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. Pettis is making progress, but he won't be back on the field for Week 14 against the Saints. The 24-year-old has been a second-year bust, catching only 11 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns in his 11 games in 2019. With several 49ers rookies possibly passing him on the depth chart in 2020, Pettis is no longer a must-hold in dynasty/keeper leagues either. He posted 27 catches for 467 yards and five scores in 12 games in his rookie season.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee) is unlikely to play in Week 14 against the Buccaneers after the team claimed kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers on Wednesday. Vinatieri will turn 47 years old this month and has missed 14 total kicks this year, so McLaughlin could take over for him this weekend and finish out the year as the team's kicker. McLaughlin made seven of his eight kicks in his time for the 49ers filling in for Robbie Gould, and he could become a viable kicking streamer down the stretch in fantasy. Vinatieri, who has been a legendary kicker in his career, could be nearing the end.
Washington Redskins wide receivers Paul Richardson (hamstring) and Trey Quinn (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day on Thursday. They're both unlikely to play in Week 14 against the Packers. Neither receiver has moved the fantasy needle in 2019 either, so they should both be firmly planted on the waiver wire in your league. Outside of rookie Terry McLaurin -- and he's a risky fantasy proposition these days as well -- no Washington receiver is worth your consideration for a lineup spot. If Richardson and Quinn are inactive this Sunday, rookies Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims Jr. will be in three-wide sets. That means all of the Redskins pass-catchers will be rookies with a rookie quarterback throwing them passes. Look elsewhere.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (knee) did not take part in practice on Thursday. Agholor returned in the Week 13 loss to the Dolphins and had an underwhelming three catches for 41 yards in the embarrassing defeat. He's not a lock to play on Monday night against the Giants, and even if he does, he's a low-upside WR4/flex in deeper leagues. Agholor just hasn't proven to be much of a producer unless Alshon Jeffery misses time with injury. If Agholor can't go this week, rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who caught his first touchdown of his career last Sunday, would see an even bigger role in the passing game.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara will face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. The 49ers rank first in the league in passing yards allowed per game but only 22nd in rushing yards allowed per contest. They've also been somewhat susceptible to big running plays, as they've allowed the ninth-most rushing plays of 20 yards or more. That bodes well for Kamara, who has been a fantasy bust despite garnering at least 20 touches in two of his last three games. Expect New Orleans to lean on the running game, giving Kamara another chance at 20 touches- and his first touchdown since Week 3. He'll have slightly more upside in PPR, though volume will allow him to put up low-end RB1 numbers this week.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (concussion) is out of practice for the second straight day this week on Thursday. All signs are pointing towards Olsen sitting Week 14 out against the Falcons after suffering a serious head injury in Week 13. If you've been relying on Olsen in your tight end spot, it's time to make other plans for the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Ian Thomas should become the primary pass-catching tight end in Carolina if Olsen sits, and he'd have streaming TE2 appeal if that's the case.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (ribs) remained out of practice for the second straight day on Thursday. Unless Williams gets in at least a limited practice on Friday, he's headed for his second straight missed game after getting injured in Week 11. With Darrel Williams (hamstring) on Injured Reserve, we could be looking at a committee approach with LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware in Week 14 against the Patriots. Even if Williams is able to play, he'd be an RB3/flex to fade in the fantasy playoffs. Thompson might have the most fantasy upside this weekend with the Chiefs limiting McCoy's touches down the stretch.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring) is not practicing for the second straight day this week on Thursday. As of now, it's looking like Thielen can't be trusted to return in Week 14 against the Lions in a good matchup. Keep him locked to your bench unless something changes with his status on Friday. Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Olabisi Johnson should remain the top three passing targets if Thielen misses another contest. Diggs went for seven catches and 143 yards in the last matchup with Detroit, so he'll be a high-end WR2 regardless of whether Thielen plays. Rudolph has become a touchdown hog with Thielen out of the lineup.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will face an extremely tough test in Week 14 against the San Francisco 49ers. Here's where the 49ers Defense ranks in several key categories: 45 sacks, second in the league, 134.2 pass yards allowed per game, first in the league and 29.4 pass attempts allowed, second in the league. Brees will potentially have to take on this fearsome pass rush without his starting offensive tackles, Andrus Peat (forearm) and Terron Armstead (ankle). Even in the offensive-friendly Superdome, Brees isn't dropping back to pass 40 times against this defense. Expect a more run-oriented gameplan from New Orleans, making Brees more of a QB2 this week.