BREAKING NEWS
L.A. Now

The Huddle: Kobe Bryant visits the Eagles as the Rams seek their 10th win

Each week during the season, visit the Huddle for the latest in Rams football news, notes, conversation and opinion.

This is notable

The Rams clinched their first winning season since 2003 with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals. A win against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum on Sunday would move them a game closer to clinching their first playoff berth since 2004.

::

Todd Gurley is in good company. Gurley and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson are the only players in Rams history to have gained more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage and scored at least 10 touchdowns in the team’s first 12 games.

Gurley has rushed for 939 yards and eight touchdowns in 223 carries this season and has caught 48 passes for 563 yards and three touchdowns.

Social status

“Thanks to @kobebryant for visiting us in LA! #FlyEaglesFly”

- Eagles, Philadelphia Eagles

Kobe Bryant has no love for L.A., at least not this weekend.

Bryant made an appearance at the Eagles’ temporary headquarters in Orange County on Friday, and the former Laker, who attended high school in Philadelphia, even gave a pep talk to the team. Players tweeted about the five-time NBA champ’s appearance, and Bryant left in a customized No. 8 Eagles jersey.

Here’s to guessing the Rams won’t be sending Bryant a jersey anytime soon.

::

“Prayers out to everyone affected by these fires. Smoke and ash are heavy outside the house. Definitely want to find a way to help out my Ventura County neighbors asap.”

- Johnny Hekker, @JHekker

The Rams punter sprung to action, along with his seven-month pregnant wife, Makalya, on Tuesday after seeing the destruction caused by the Thomas fire in Ventura County. Hekker and his wife stopped at a Newbury Park Target to buy supplies and delivered them to the shelter at the Ventura County fairground.

::

“It’s done—league just changed it to a sack for 94!”

- Wade Phillips, @sonofbum

Wade Phillips, helping your fantasy team one stat at a time.

The Rams defensive coordinator petitioned NFL statisticians to change one of Robert Quinn’s tackles for a loss to a sack in the win over the Cardinals. The NFL acknowledged that Quinn indeed sacked Blaine Gabbert and credited the linebacker.

A few fantasy owners let Phillips know the sack was a difference maker in their leagues, one even wrote that he’d name his first born after Phillips.

As for Quinn, he now has 5 1/2 sacks this season, including two in the win over the Cardinals.

Opponent hotline

“Obviously we’ll be forever linked because of the draft and everything and I think we’re both excited for this game and just for those matchups in the future. But, at the end of the day they’re a great football team and so are we right now, so there’s a lot riding on this one just because we’ve got two good NFC opponents, so there’s a lot more at stake than just me versus Jared.”

Carson Wentz

At the outset of the season, few could have predicted this much fanfare around the Wentz and Jared Goff matchup, despite the quarterbacks being selected with the No. 1 and 2 picks, respectively, in the 2016 draft. Goff finished last season 0-7 after taking over as a starter, and Wentz went 7-9. A season later, both quarterbacks have their teams atop their division, and their offenses the NFL in scoring, averaging 30.1 points per game.

::

“When the schedule came out in April and we saw that we had Seattle and the L.A. Rams back-to-back, those are tough trips to fly out and then fly back to Philly and really, it puts you on a short week and trying to get players recovered and the rehab and the treatment that you want and then fly back out here the next week.”

— Doug Pederson

The Eagles spent the week in Orange County after playing the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. An extended West Coast stay, in 75-degree weather, beat the alternative of returning to Philadelphia, where snow is in the forecast, and the time change could be difficult to manage. The Rams utilized a similar strategy in October when they remained in Jacksonville, Fla., for a week before traveling to London.

Hot off the presser

“No practice, who would complain about that? Yeah it was funny. I come in, I’m prepared for a long day and they start telling me the schedule, and I’m like what…

“You understand why coach did it. And it gives us motivation to win this game, because if we win this game hopefully we keep the same schedule, so we’ll see about that.”

— Todd Gurley

Gurley is an outspoken proponent of routines, but didn’t seem to mind coach Sean McVay’s decision to change the practice schedule Wednesday. Instead of a normal workout, McVay held a walk-through due to poor air quality caused by fires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

::

“No, we haven’t, if we have to adjust to it, if it does get too noisy and we have to adjust to it a silent count then we will. But we’ve been practicing going on verbal. It is a home game, our fans have been great for us, and we’re not expecting any different.

— Rob Havenstein

The Rams right tackle said Friday the team did not practice a silent count despite McVay telling reporters earlier in the week that he was mulling the idea. The Rams went to a silent count in a Week 5 loss at the Coliseum because of loud Seattle Seahawks fans. Eagles fans are expected to make a strong showing Sunday.

My Thiry

Several people — around the city, on the radio and across social media — have asked for my “gut feeling” in regards to the outcome Sunday.

I’ve sat around, mulled it over and my gut has revealed nothing other than a craving for some holiday cookies.

The Rams were out of routine this week, but so were the Eagles. The Rams have won six of their last seven, but the Eagles could be inspired after losing last Sunday in Seattle.

Both teams have a top-five rated offense, and both are eager to clinch a playoff spot.

It’s too close to call.

Regardless of the outcome, Sunday’s game will mark the first of what is hopefully many matchups between two young promising quarterbacks.

And for those of you who must have a prediction: Rams win, 21-17. But don’t hold me to it.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
63°