Philadelphia Eagles: Does Todd Gurley’s absence help or hurt Philly?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

In the lead up to a pivotal Week 17 matchup, the Los Angeles Rams have ruled out Todd Gurley. But will his absence help or hurt the Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff chances?

According to NFL Insider’s Ian Rapoport, Todd Gurley has been ruled out for the Los Angeles Rams Week 17 bout against the San Francisco 49ers.

But wait, what does that have to do with the Philadelphia Eagles? That my friends is the million-dollar question.

As pretty much everyone in the Delaware Valley already knows, if the Eagles are going to make the playoffs, the team has to defeat the short-handed Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland and the Chicago Bears, led by Lancaster County’s own Matt Nagy, have to defeat the Minnesota Vikings at the site of Super Bowl 53.

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Pretty cut-and-dry, right? Hardly.

Though all but one spot in the NFC playoff picture have been filled, in only two teams, New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys have their exact placement locked in going into the Week 17. That means that the Rams and Bears are still fighting for a Wild Card bye, a major asset for any team with Super Bowl aspirations.

If the Rams win on Sunday, it really doesn’t matter what the Bears do, as they will have locked in the second seed with a 13-3 record, but if they were to falter and the Bears pull out the W in Minnesota, then Nagy’s squad would receive an extra week to prepare for a game against whoever earns the sixth seed with a win (in that case the Eagles).

Which brings us back to Gurley’s injury.

On one hand, losing Gurley obviously makes the Rams worse, and the team could simply opt to pack it in against that’s surprisingly competent 49ers in preparation for the postseason. This would be ideal for Philly, as it would give the Bears extra motivation to march into Minnesota and secure the second seed over Kirk Cousins.

However, one could also argue had because of Gurley’s pesky knee injury, it may be in the best interest of the Rams to go all-in on securing a win over Nick Mullens, Kyle Shanahan, and company as it would give the star running back an extra week to prepare for the up divisional playoff round.

It’s abundantly clear that the Rams are not the same team without Gurley under center, as highlighted by Jared Goff‘s lackluster performance in Week 15, so who knows if the team could even beat a 49ers squad with C.J. Anderson leading the way on the ground. In games where Gurley receives 14 or fewer rushing attempts, the Rams are 1-3, vs. a perfect 11-0 record in games where the former Georgia Bulldog gets 15 or more carries.

Home field advantage obviously matters, but going all in only to have a player suffer a significant injury in an all but meaningless game is way worse.

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While only time will tell exactly how Gurley’s absence will affect the Rams, the Bears, and the Eagles playoff positioning, it certainly adds an extra wrinkle to what will all but certainly be one of the most exciting Sundays of this calendar year. It’s fitting the NFL saved the best for last.