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NFL Week 14 early game live thread

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Here’s the early slate prior to Rams-Eagles.

Minnesota Vikings QB Case Keenum throwing to TE Kyle Rudolph
Minnesota Vikings QB Case Keenum throwing to TE Kyle Rudolph
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams are hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14 with the NFC coming into view:

NFC Standings prior to Week 14
NFC Standings prior to Week 14
ESPN

The teams with less than six wins are all but relegated to playing out their season for their selection order in the 2018 NFL Draft and developing their young talent for seasons to come as their 2017 season is all but over.

As I laid out early in the week in looking at the NFC playoff picture, those three six-win teams are teetering on the edge. A loss today would add them to the group of teams preparing to watch the NFC playoffs as opposed to playing in it.

That leaves the major action to those top seven clubs including the Rams. Here’s how the early schedule looks on a very cold NFL sunday nationwide and how it impacts the Rams’ playoff fortunes.

Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (8-4)

The biggest game from the early slate.

Don’t have to hype this one up more than it deserves. It has major implications across the board.

Rams playoff impact

Gotta pull for the Vikings here. If they can top the Vikings ]and the Rams win, we’d both be 10-3 with Minnesota owning the tiebreaker from our Week 11 loss. Given that Minny doesn’t have the toughest schedule remaining, any loss would be welcome at this point.

Indianapolis Colts (3-9) at Buffalo Bills (6-6)

Amazingly, the Bills are by no means out of the playoff hunt in the AFC. This is a must-win game given the level of competition and the fact they’re at home. Having lost last week to the New England Patriots, the Bills sorely need this one if they’re going to keep pace in the AFC wild card race.

Rams playoff impact

No playoff impact here, but worth remembering that the Bills own the Rams’ second-round pick while we hold Buffalo’s sixth-round pick. As the draft order continues to develop, might want to keep these kind of things in mind looking at results.

Chicago Bears (3-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)

There’s a good chance both of these squads are playing for new head coaches in 2018.

Rams playoff impact

Nope.

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

They’ve got long, long odds to get back in the mix, but assuming the Packers can take care of the winless Browns they’d be above .500 with three to play and looking at a potential return of QB Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers’ final three opponents? The Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. All I’m saying is that if the Pack get it done today, keep an eye on the ongoings in Wisconsin.

Rams playoff impact

Assuming the likely outcome, the Green Bay Packers and NFC South are the two playoff stories to watch as the playoff picture solidifies. The difficulty for Green Bay is that there is no margin for error. A single loss is likely enough to put them out of the playoffs.

Oakland Raiders (6-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-6)

The Raiders, Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers are all 6-6 atop the AFC West.

Yeah.

Rams playoff impact

Fascinating stuff, but there’s no impact on the Rams’ road to the playoffs. There is still a decent intrigue along the lines of the #FightforLA. Yes, the Rams’ hot start has pretty much buried any real competition for attention right now, but don’t discount the Chargers. They’ve won six of their last eight and are playing some of the best football in the NFL. Plus, they get their revenge matchups against these two later on. While we’re watching the NFC South as the clogged division on our side, the AFC West is shaping up to be a three-way fight for a postseason berth.

Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at New York Giants (2-10)

Hard to imagine either of these teams were anticipating these kinds of records by Week 14. Hard to imagine me feeling badly about it either.

Rams playoff impact

A win for the Giants would pretty much eliminate the Cowboys from the mix. If the NFL world didn’t already have some love for QB Eli Manning after last week’s career gasp from former HC Ben McAdoo, pushing the Cowboys out of the 2017 picture might engender even more support. And look at who’s taking over as interim head coach in NYG...it’s former Rams HC Steve Spagnuolo.

One Rams-related storyline to consider? Across from Spags is Dallas Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, himself a former Rams head coach. Could they both be head coaches next year? That’d add a hell of a lot of intrigue to the Rams’ 2018 season...

Detroit Lions (6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8)

Detroit’s fighting to stay alive in 2017. Tampa is fighting to...well look. Both fan bases are asking if they need to make a coaching change in a few weeks.

That’s never a good thing.

Rams playoff impact

The Lions don’t really line up with the Rams’ needs moving forward. Tampa runs through the rest of the NFC South, so that’ll be interesting. Overall, there’s minimal playoff impact. The Rams will get to play with the Lions’ sixth-round pick in the draft, though, thanks to the Greg Robinson deal. That’s enough to cheer for the Bucs today.

San Francisco 49ers (2-10) at Houston Texans (4-8)

Not much going on here outside of draft order.

Rams playoff impact

Not this year. Hard not to think these are two different teams in 2018, though.