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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC West showdowns loom

The St. Louis Rams may not have merited a prime time game this season, but for the second week in a row the Thursday night game features an NFC West entrant. This week, it's the Arizona Cardinals taking on the Dallas Cowboys. On Sunday, the Rams play the 49ers in St. Louis, while Seattle travels to Tampa Bay.

On Friday morning, the Cardinals should be relegated, officially, to the spoiler roll, wrapping up their season next week against San Francisco. Tampa Bay is favored by 6 points over the Seahags. The cigar chomping men wearing green visors (that is who sets odds, right?) made the Rams 2-point favorites to beat the 49ers.

Assuming Seattle loses this weekend, a Rams win would give them a solid one game lead in the division, though it would not give them a playoff spot. A Seattle loss combined with a Rams win this week, would set up a showdown in Seattle for the last week of the season. A Rams win there would give them a playoff berth and an 8-8 record. A Seattle win would give them a playoff berth and a 7-9 record.

If the Rams lose this week, by some toxic spill accident of fate, they will not be entirely eliminated from the hunt. Spagnuolo's team would need beat Seattle and pray that Arizona beats the 49ers next week. If San Francisco wins their last two games, they'll make the playoffs, proving there is no such thing as karma.

With a win on Sunday, which admittedly is starting to seem like a Festivus Miracle, the Rams can simplify the NFC playoff picture, eliminating San Francisco.

In your trumped up outrage watch, former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi defends the current playoff seeding system that gives division winners a home game (via Mike Sando's ESPN NFC West blog). Bruschi points out that winning the division is an accomplishment, and changing it to a record-based seeding system would eventually mean that a 10-win team that wins its division loses home field advantage to an 11-win team.

Translation, the NFC West won't always be this bad.