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NFC West outlook, Week 8: Can the Los Angeles Rams gain ground on the 49ers, Seahawks?

At 4-3 the LA Rams currently sit in 3rd place in the NFC West. Will they gain ground on the division leaders this Sunday?

NFL: London Views Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping three straight, the Los Angeles Rams now find themselves with a 4-3 record entering Week 8, and in third place in a very competitive NFC West division. It’s certainly not where they expected to find themselves nearing the midway point of the 2019 NFL season, but a division title is certainly not out of reach.

Fortunately for the Rams, they were able to get right last Sunday facing a struggling Atlanta Falcons team. And they’ll get another juicy matchup against the woeful Cincinnati Bengals (0-7) in London this weekend.

The Rams, on both sides of the ball, looked like the team we were used to seeing in 2018. QB Jared Goff had all kinds of time in the pocket, allowing him to pick apart the Falcons’ defense. Fans should expect a similar showing this Sunday.

Here are the Bengals’ defense team stats, via Pro Football Reference, heading into Week 8:

  • Yards per offensive play (Y/P): 6.4 (31st)
  • Net yards per pass attempt (NY/A): 7.7 (28th)
  • Rushing yards per attempt (Y/A): 5.2 (32nd)

As it was last week, this is a game the Rams cannot afford to lose. The Seattle Seahawks (5-2) have the one game lead over the Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers remain undefeated (6-0) atop the division. With only a half game lead over the Cardinals, a loss could put them last place in the division and spell disaster for their playoff aspirations.

BUT, this is one the Rams should win...and with relative ease. So assuming the Rams are able to move to 5-3 this weekend, what does it look like for the rest of the west?

49ers (6-0)

The 49ers will host the Carolina Panthers (4-2) on Sunday, which should shape up to be one of the tougher matchups for the 49ers thus far this season.

Since taking over at QB in Week 2, Kyle Allen remains a perfect 4-0 having thrown 7 touchdowns, no interceptions, and boasts a 106.6 QB rating which currently ranks 4th in the league. He, and running back Christian McCaffrey, will have their hands full facing a fierce San Francisco defense that’s giving up only 233 yards per game; second lowest in the NFL behind only the Patriots.

Could the Panthers fly coast-to-coast and knock off one of two undefeated-s this weekend? It’ll certainly be tough, but they’d be doing the Rams a pretty big favor.

Seahawks (5-2)

The Seahawks will get the Falcons (in Atlanta) this Sunday. Highly unlikely the Rams gain any ground on them this weekend.

Cardinals (3-3-1)

The Cardinals will head to the Superdome in Week 8 to take on Teddy Bridgewater and the red hot New Orleans Saints (6-1). I’m guessing many figured the Saints would falter after losing starting QB Drew Brees, but that just hasn’t been the case and Bridgewater has lead them to five straight victories.

On the road, in that environment, against a superior opponent it’s hard to see the Cardinals maintaining their .500 record. But stranger things have happened. More likely, the Rams make it a 1.5 game lead over the division’s basement dweller.

Playoff picture

Sitting in third place, it’s obvious, at least at this juncture of the season, the Rams are looking at a wild card spot. There’s still plenty of ballgame left, and assuming the Rams take care of business in London (and maybe get some help from the NFC South), they’re still in good shape for a run at a third straight NFC West crown.

Here’s who the Rams are currently looking up at in the NFC: