No one has more to gain on Sunday than Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz isn’t Matt Flynn. He’s played a long time in the NFL, starting 92 games in his career and nearly winning league MVP in his second season back in 2017. But what if Wentz has a Matt Flynn game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers?

You know, a performance where he throws for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the last week of the season – and his only start of the year, too.

Flynn went from Aaron Rodgers’ backup to signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Seahawks during the 2012 offseason thanks to that unbelievable and unexpected performance in the 2011 finale.

Flynn couldn’t beat out a rookie Russell Wilson in 2012 and never wound up being the starting quarterback Seattle thought it was getting, but he buoyed that eye-popping performance into an opportunity to start the following year. Wentz could do the same in 2024 if he lights it up at Levi’s Stadium in Week 18.

Wentz was benched by the Commanders last season and didn’t get so much as a single workout with a team this year until the Rams signed him in November. He hasn’t attempted a pass yet but he’ll start against San Francisco on Sunday with a chance to show he’s still got it.

It’s similar to the Baker Mayfield situation last year. The Rams claimed him off waivers from the Panthers and he went on to play five games with Los Angeles, throwing four touchdown passes with two interceptions.

The Buccaneers took a shot on him in the offseason by giving Mayfield a fully guaranteed one-year, $4 million deal. He capitalized on that opportunity and has started all 16 games, throwing a career-high 28 touchdown passes with only 10 interceptions. He also has the Bucs on the brink of a playoff berth.

Wentz has fallen out of favor in a similar way that Mayfield did, but also like Mayfield, he has a chance to resurrect his career this weekend with the Rams. He won’t be afforded the multi-week audition that Mayfield had, but this is as big a stage as Wentz is going to have for the next two and a half months.

He’s well aware of what Mayfield turned his Rams opportunity into this past year, too.

“Yeah, I obviously saw what he did,” Wentz said of Mayfield on Wednesday. “I see the year he’s having now and I’m happy for him. But to me a lot of those things aren’t really clouding my ability to go play. For me it’s just go play, have fun, try to help this team win and still I know it’s a different circumstance. It’s Week 18. It’s all those things, but my job is still to go out there and try to help this team win and figure all that out later. But I’m enjoying it and excited for it.”

Wentz has more to gain than anyone on the field this week. A strong performance and maybe a team will take a shot on him in March like the Bucs did with Mayfield. If he flops, it could be his last game in the NFL – something that sounds extreme but is very realistic after seeing the lack of chances Wentz got from other teams in 2023.

He’s not going to have a Matt Flynn game where he approaches 500 yards and six touchdowns, but at the very least, he needs to show he can throw accurately, avoid careless mistakes with the ball and read defenses the way a starting quarterback has to. There’s a lot on the line for him in Santa Clara this Sunday.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire