Well how about that. The Dallas Cowboys beat the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football in Week 13, 13-10. The defensive showing boosts the Los Angeles Rams into the #1 seed in the NFC playoff picture now as the only 1-loss team in the conference:
Put simply? The NFC #1 seed is now the Rams’ to lose. If they win out, they’ll hold the top spot and home field throughout the playoffs in the conference.
It won’t be easy.
The Rams are on a two-game road swing starting on Sunday against the Detroit Lions and then off to face the 8-3 Chicago Bears. Then they’ll come home to face the 5-6-1 defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles before closing things out against the dregs of the NFC West: the 2-9 Arizona Cardinals and the 2-9 San Francisco 49ers. We’ll have to see if the Rams repeat their Week 17 strategy from last year in which they rested their starters against the 49ers in the regular season finale.
The Saints on the other hand need the Rams to slip up somewhere along the way and to hold out themselves if the Rams only lose one of the final five. Tonight’s loss kicked off a three-game road stretch that continues next weekend against the 4-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and concludes on Monday Night Football in Week 15 at the 6-5 Carolina Panthers. They come back to Nola to deal with the 7-3-1 Pittsburgh Steelers and finish with the home leg against the Panthers.
Dallas did us a huge favor tonight. We’ll see if the Rams refuse to cede ground back to New Orleans as the season concludes.