Only four more games left. Amazing. Pro football really is the quickest season in all of pro sports...still preferable to an 18-game season. Anyway, it seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the St. Louis Rams and their place in the NFL Playoff Picture, looking at the implications of this week's games for the NFC West title chase.
Yes, the only way for the Rams to make the playoffs is by claiming the NFC West crown (said to be made of wet cardboard) because there are other teams with much better records who'll earn a wild card bid, like this week's opponent the New Orleans Saints, locked in a battle with the Falcons for the NFC South.
The Saints and the Chiefs, next week's opponent, both have winning records, 9-3 and 8-4 respectively. Sam Bradford and Co. are in New Orleans this week and home against KC. For my money, this week's game is the toughest one on the remaining schedule. The Saints do have a couple of black marks on their record, with losses to Arizona and Cleveland. Both came in the first half of the season, and Drew Brees' team has since ironed things out, winning their last five.
In San Francisco, the Seattle Seahawks take on the 49ers, a 49ers team with Alex Smith back at QB. If they can beat Seattle, they could pull within one game of the division lead, if the Rams lose. As much as we hate to do it, you've got to hold your nose and hope SF wins this game. A Seattle loss leaves the Rams in first place, regardless of what happens versus New Orleans.
Seattle faces Atlanta in week 15, while San Fran takes on the Chargers in San Diego. That's the week the Kansas City Chiefs visit St. Louis. Of course, that's no easy game for the Rams either. If all three NFC West teams lose in week 15, the Rams still have the division lead with a 6-8 record and two vitally important division games to end the season.
In short, it all comes down to week 16, at home versus the 49ers, and week 17, in Seattle, for the Rams division aspirations.