Although the Rams blew their chances for the playoffs this season, at 7-7-1 they still have plenty of reason to play this Sunday. Not only will a win this Sunday make the Rams above .500 for the first time since 2003 (they won 8 games in 2004 and 2006 also), but a win will prove that they've learned how to win.
Before this season it's easy to say this team didn't know what it takes to be a good team in the NFL. Steven Jackson was a rookie the last time the Rams had a solid team, and the only other time he even sniffed the playoffs was in 2010, where the team led by rookie Sam Bradford seemed destined to beat the Seahawks in their home and make the playoffs. It what would have been a fairy tale ending, but it wasn't to be.
Now the Rams, with a completely different team and a new mustached leader in Jeff Fisher, will try and do what they should have done in 2010, and beat the Seahawks in December. It won't be an easy task, since the Seahawks decided that they wanted to wait until the end of the year to hit their stride. Headed by rookie Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have won 4 straight and are coming off a lopsided victory against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Seahawks could rest their starters, but there's still a chance that the 49ers could lose to the Cardinals (stop laughing). Also, this could be the Seahawks last home game this season (stop laughing... the Cardinals could really win), so you know that head coach Pete Carroll will love to head into the playoffs still on a hot streak and hosting a home game.
So the Rams will get the Seahawks best shot this weekend, in what will hopefully end up as an epic match up between two teams in the best division in football. The difference between this Rams team right now, and how they played in the beginning of the season, is large. They still shoot themselves in the foot, but they can still win games.
Of course, the Rams have holes on their roster just like other teams, and the front office will work on that this off-season. But the Rams already have a solid core of players like Chris Long, Bradford, Michael Brockers, Chris Givens, and many others. This game isn't about the future draft picks and free agents that will be Rams; it's about the core players' development.
As they watch the Seahawks and 49ers playing teams in the playoffs - both teams that they competed with and beat - they'll be playing for the ultimate prize: a Super Bowl win. A win this week will keep the team hungry and focused.