The Los Angeles Rams, sitting with a 4-11 record, are statistically eliminated from playoff contention, but certainly still have notions to compete for. Under interim head coach John Fassel, the Rams have two games remaining, each with different impacts on the season.
Week 16 has the Rams back at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against the San Francisco 49ers. The two teams meet in another installment of the California rivalry, with a battle between Northern and Southern California. In their first season back in Los Angeles, the Rams have a chance to continue on a historic rivalry, with bragging rights on the light.
However, the 49ers had the first laugh in the presumed matchup, during their Week 1 meeting. In the Rams first game back this season, the 49ers handed them a 28-0 blowout on national television. The Rams simply weren’t prepared for the contest, as the offense and defense were both static.
That also was the game that Aaron Donald was ejected from the game, after smashing his helmet on the field following a frustrating play call. Alas, Fassel used this week to give his team a speech on the history of the rivalry, stating it was an effective way to get them hyped, via Myles Simmons of TheRams.com:
“We had a little discussion about that,” Rams interim head coach John Fassel said. “I thought it was important to the players, especially the young guys, to know that the Rams and the Niners have played, I think  times — seventh-most played game in NFL history, as far as a rivalry.”
The Rams and 49ers have met in 133 regular-season contests, with the 49ers holding a 67-64-3 edge. This rivalry dates back decades and was a main attraction in the state of California. As one of the most historic rivalries in the NFL, it surely impacts the organization more than it does this season.
However, there are some important differences between the first meeting and the second. With Jeff Fisher obviously being fired, first and foremost there is a coaching change. Secondly, the 49ers’ defense will now face No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.
We’ll see how Goff responds to this contest on Saturday, in perhaps the first game his team has been favored in with him at quarterback. The 1-13 49ers can play the spoiler card, as the Rams can use this opportunity to build towards the future.
Fassel stated on many occasions that the last few regular season contests are auditions for the roster heading into the offseason, where the organization will begin their head coaching search. Goff has an opportunity to gel with his teammates, in a contest the Rams are excited to partake in:
“I think they were interested and pretty surprised,” Fassel said. “Hopefully respectful of what the history of the rivalry and, really, the NFL means. Whether or not that gives the guys a lift or not, it lets them know that this is important and it’s kind of cool and we’re fortunate to be able to participate in this.”
Besides the California rivalry, the Rams also still have an opportunity to finish with the best divisional record in the NFC West. Both they and the Seattle Seahawks end the season with two divisional matchups.
The Rams having two losses in the division, while the Seahawks have one loss and a tie. Alas, the California rivalry gets another opportunity to be renewed moving forward, with both teams hoping playing for the offseason and moving forward.