The St. Louis Rams have mostly been a footnote in the 2011 NFL season. From week to week, except for one notable exception, Steve Spagnuolo's team takes the field only to be rolled over by that week's opponent. They were once predicted to win the NFC West, but they have since been lapped by the other three teams, including Arizona and Seattle who each managed to overcome significant injuries to get to 7-8 on the season. St. Louis has one more chance to get a win inside their division with a Week 17 home game against the San Francisco 49ers.
I haven't seen the odds for the game yet, but you can imagine that the Rams are underdogs. Despite that, they have a huge opportunity to play the role of spoiler, beating the 49ers and changing the playoff picture.
A win would guarantee San Francisco the NFC's second seed in the playoffs, giving them a first round bye and home field advantage unless they have to take on the Packers who locked up the top spot this week. If the Rams win and the New Orleans Saints prevail, the 49ers would lose out on the second spot to the Saints.
Of course, you have to weigh the advantages of winning or losing versus the potential reward come April. If the Rams were to get the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, it could be worth three or four first round picks and a handful of other picks. That's the kind of bounty that could instantly change the direction of a franchise where losing has been the culture for far too long.