The Los Angeles Rams made the smart move Friday, ruling out Todd Gurley for their Week 17 game against the 49ers. While it was the right thing to do, it actually makes this week’s game even more important to win.

While Gurley’s injury still doesn’t appear overly serious, it’s clear at this point that it isn’t something too minor or inconsequential either. Knee inflammation is something that will only get better with rest, and Gurley clearly needs as much time off as possible. He hasn’t been able to practice yet, and ideally, he won’t be forced to play next weekend either on very limited practice time.

Coach Sean McVay even said earlier Friday that he couldn’t 100 percent guarantee Gurley would be back for the playoffs, which shows just how important every extra day is at this point. McVay isn’t the type of coach to mislead the media, so if he says something like that, then there genuinely is some concern over Gurley’s status for next week and beyond.

The only way to ensure that Gurley gets another week to get back to 100 percent is by winning Sunday and clinching the second seed in the NFC to get a first-round bye. McVay can’t afford to rest Jared Goff or any of the other starters this week because getting a win over San Francisco is now the most important thing.

Going all out to win against the 49ers will have additional benefits, as well. It’ll ensure that none of the starters who need the mental reps get rusty, which looked like it might’ve been the case last year in the playoff game against the Falcons after all the starters sat out Week 17.

  Cognitive approach

Running back is the one position in football where rust isn’t too much of an issue and being fresh is pretty much all that matters. C.J. Anderson had a great debut in Week 16, but the Rams will be in major trouble if he has to see significant run in the playoffs. Ideally, Gurley will play almost every single snap in a playoff game, and he’s clearly not that close to full speed. As of now, it seems like getting a bye is the only way to ensure Gurley is all the way ready to go for the playoffs, making this weekend’s game a must-win.

Gurley isn’t the type to sit out multiple games just for rest purposes. He definitely is significantly hampered right now, and getting the first round bye is essential. Anderson’s first game as a Ram was encouraging and a great story, but the Rams can’t afford to lean on him too much in the playoffs. If they want to win a playoff game for the first time since the 2004 season, they’ll need Gurley as the featured back handling his full load.