We all knew it could happen at the beginning of the month, but as the Cardinals - Arizona variety - were putting it to the Rams on December 3, few rational fans felt that it would happen. And now, with two straight wins under their belt the Rams' playoff chances look really, really good.
Here's what needs to happen:
Rams beat Minnesota.
NY Giants lose (or tie) at Washington.
Carolina Panthers lose (or tie) at New Orleans.
Atlanta Falcons lose (or tie) at Philly.
This scenario heavily favors the Rams. Now, playing Minnesota at home is not to be taken for granted; however, the Rams should still be favored in this game. As for the rest of the chips that have to fall in the scenario outlined above, those teams have tough matchups.
The Giants are in free fall, and neither Tom Coughlin or Eli "Maybe Phil Rivers wasn't so bad" Manning can do anything to halt that train wreck of a season. They did beat Washington in NY (New Jersey really) by a score of 19-3 back in week 5, but things have changed for each team considerably. Washington will come out fighting their division rival in order to salvage a win and give fans something to look forward to next season.
New Orleans is clearly the favored team in their game against the Panthers, but with the number two spot in the NFC and home field advantage all but locked up, Brees and the other starters could get some rest time on the bench. Still, Peyton's a Parcels guy and they won't cede any ground just to get an extra quarter of rest before the playoffs start. They'll want that 11th win as bad as they wanted the first one. Besides, that week 4, 21-18 loss at Carolina won't sit well in the NO locker room. No word if Delhomme will play this week. I can't see that it would help all that much.
Speaking of teams in free fall, Atlanta simply can't beat Philly, in Philly, in Atlanta, on a plane, not in Spain, not even in the rain. This will definitely be Jim Mora's last game on the sidelines for the Falcons. Besides, Philly needs to win in order to make sure that they grab the NFC East title in case Dallas wins.
There's a second playoff scenario that could unfold if the Rams tie the Vikings this week. It's unlikely, but seeing as how making the playoffs wasn't even considered worthy of a list for Santa just a few weeks ago, let's review the scenario anyway.
If the Rams tie, they need the Giants to lose, the Falcons to lose, the Panthers to lose, and the Packers to lose.
Sometime late Sunday night we'll know whether or not we're waiting for next week or next season.