R.B. FALLSTROM

Associated Press


ST. LOUIS - Mike Martz believes it's best for the St. Louis Rams to be well-rested heading into the final week of the season, even if their playoff lives are at stake.

The Rams (7-8) got two days off, Tuesday and Wednesday, to recuperate from their 20-7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. They'll have two full days of practice instead of the usual three in a normal work week to prepare for the finale against the New York Jets (10-5), throwing in a short workout on Saturday morning.

"I really think it gives the players a chance to recover from the game completely," Martz said. "I think if you come back and try to practice after one day off it's hard on them."

Martz said it's easier from a game-plan standpoint for coaches, too, and some of the on-field work will be replaced with meeting time. Players got three days off last week, including Christmas, and it didn't affect their play against the Eagles.

"They have such a good feel for what they're doing defensively and offensively," Martz said.

The Rams need to win to have a chance to make it to the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons under Martz. They can clinch the NFC West with a victory and a loss by the Seahawks (8-7). They're a game behind the Seahawks but own the tiebreaker because they won both regular-season meetings.

They also can clinch a wild-card berth with a victory combined with a loss by the Vikings (8-7), or with a victory along with a tie in the Saints-Panthers game.

The last option is highly unlikely. The NFL has been deciding games with overtime since 1974 and of the 375 games only 16 games, or 2.7 percent, finished in a tie.

"I don't know all the scenarios, but we're still alive," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I know we're going to be playing the early game next week, so if we win, we'll probably have to sit around and wait."

Notes:@ OG Chris Dishman, who tore left knee ligaments last Friday, will undergo reconstructive surgery after the season. Martz said Dishman will be sidelined at least nine months. ... DE Bryce Fisher didn't start Sunday, but did enough in only 17 plays to be named NFC defensive player of the week. He had two tackles, five assists, a sack, forced fumble, two hits on the quarterback and a quarterback pressure