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The Chargers Provide the Rams With Playoff Hopes

The St. Louis Rams [4-6] aren’t out of the 2014 playoff race, and they’ve got their Week 12 opponent - the San Diego Chargers - to thank for it...

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, heading into Week 12 of the regular season, most San Diego Chargers' fans were probably scouring the internet looking for updated mock drafts, while desperately avoiding NFL power rankings which would’ve proven unkind to their 4-6 team.  If you’re a Rams’ fan, you know the deal.

But the Chargers, the Rams' Week 12 opponent, should provide them with a bit of inspiration...

This Sunday, the Rams will play their final game of what most have dubbed "The Octet of Pain" -- the eight game stretch where they’d play some of the NFL’s finest; to include both Super Bowl XLVIII teams.  In relatively surprising, yet totally Rams-esque fashion, they’ve won the games you’d expect them to lose - Seahawks, at 49ers, and Broncos - while dropping the ones they needed to win.

For the Chargers, hope was never lost.  Despite a sluggish start to the season, they endured.  They’d go on to win five of their last six, and earn a wild card spot in the playoffs.  And it wasn’t as if they weren’t tested along the way.  As a matter of fact, it was a field goal in overtime, in Week 17 against the Chiefs, that sealed the deal for them in 2013...

Gil Brandt raises an intriguing question for the Rams, along with the Falcons, Bears, Saints, and Vikings.  It’s interesting company to say the least.  Three of those teams were probably figured into many of the off/pre-season playoff prognostications, with one [Falcons or Saints] in the running for a wild card spot.  The Bears offense looked as though it would be extremely difficult to slow down, given their weapons, and the Vikings were a "sleeper" team who looked to be on the rise.

Yet none of them are mathematically eliminated.  Can the Rams find inspiration in the Chargers’ playoff push from 2013?  The road gets easier, but the Rams don’t necessarily win the ones they should, or at least the games you’d think they could...

The combined record of the Rams’ last six opponents [to include the Eagles, since they played the 49ers twice] is 42-18.  The combined record of their upcoming six opponents is 27-33.

Could the Rams sweep the final six?  If they play the next series of games like they did in Week 11, sure.  But consistency isn’t the Rams’ modus operandi.   It all starts and ends in Week 11 though.  The Rams haven’t won five straight games since 2003, and Seattle in Week 17 has never been kind to them.

But it’s possible.  So, if even for one week, hold onto hope.  Because if this Rams team is able to win on Sunday, against a Chargers team that’s lost three of their last four, stringing together three straight wins, and moving to 7-6, is just a few sound football games away.

Can the league's youngest team gel when it matters most?  Can they rally behind one of a pair of backup QB’s and do the unthinkable?  Is the Rams’ defense we expected to see in Week 1 catching fire in the second half of the season?  And would it take them winning six straight to make their first playoff appearance in a decade?