Why a Week 18 win means more to the LA Rams

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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I: A Wentz offense will have plenty of new wrinkles

Has LA Rams HC Sean McVay been predictable in the past? I would argue that until the Week 10 BYE this season, he has been. But two things happened over the break in the action. First of all, QB Matthew Stafford, who had injured his throwing hand thumb in Week 8, healed enough to be able to suit up again. But even more importantly, Rams HC Sean McVay realized that his offense had just dodged a bullet. Had Stafford faced season-ending surgery to his throwing hand, we would be discussing what the Rams would do with a Top-3 draft pick

McVay knew that he had to force himself to change his play-calling tendencies. Thankfully, that is just what he did.

The a-ha! moment came in Week 12, when the LA Rams scored 37 points against the Arizona Cardinals. That was the best offensive output of the season, but it was only possible because the LA Rams rushed 33 times and passed 33 times. In the game, Matthew Stafford threw for 229 yards, four touchdowns, and only one interception. In that victory, Coach McVay discovered that the Rams offense could dominate opponents by running the ball and balancing the offense.

That was a key observation, and one that led to the Rams winning four of their next five games.

The LA Rams will approach their Week 18 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers with a bit of deception. While the Rams may not want to tip their hand for the Wild Card Round of the upcoming NFL Playoffs, they have an advantage.

Carson Wentz won't be starting in the Wild Card Round:

The Rams plan to customize their offense to suit the skillsets of Carson Wentz in Week 18. Since he has never done more than kneel three times to run out the game clock, nobody knows what that type of game plan entails.

The Rams may not want to tip off future opponents, but the fact that backup QB Carson Wentz is starting in Week 18 ensures that will be the case. In the end, I don't anticipate the LA Rams going with a vanilla offensive package against the 49ers in Week 18. Instead, I look for the Rams to break out some tricks of the trade to put opposing defenses on their heels.

This could be fun. Stay tuned . . .