Prior to beating the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the LA Rams’ best victory this season came against the Chicago Bears. Once 5-1, the Bears lost the first of four in a row in that 24-10 Monday night loss to the Rams. Following this most recent Monday night, Chicago is now 5-5, having been defeated by the now 4-5 Minnesota Vikings by a score of 19-13.
And yet the Bears remain the closest team to crashing the three wild card berths.
The current playoff order has the Arizona Cardinals in first place in the NFC West, but the reality is that without having played the Rams yet and with games remaining between both Seattle and Arizona (which happens on Thursday) and Arizona and LA, the division needs to go through a lot more churns before it has a winner. However, it appears likely that the teams who finish in second and third in the division will also be going to the postseason.
The Seahawks currently hold the seven seed in the NFC and the Bears trail them by 1.5 games; Chicago’s Nick Foles was injured late in the game, though he is expected to be okay and could return after the Bears’ bye week to face the Green Bay Packers. That is a game that Rams fans should actually be rooting for Chicago to win because there is little chance that the Bears could catch them in the standings.
The same likely goes for Seattle and Arizona. There is not another threat in the conference at this time, with seven weeks to go.
The Vikings have won their last three and could win their next three (Cowboys, Panthers, Jaguars and all are at home) which would put them at 7-5. Then they face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, host the Bears, go to the New Orleans Saints and finish the season in Detroit against the Lions. Even if Minnesota makes it to 7-5 with six straight victories, they probably need at least three of those last four to get over anyone in the NFC West.
Minnesota already lost to Seattle, so eclipsing the Seahawks for them would be even more unlikely. But getting over the Rams or Cardinals will also be difficult. The Vikings are only 3-3 in the NFC and getting a win over Jacksonville won’t help them in that area.
The Lions are also 4-5 and they do have a win against Arizona, reminding us that not only are the Cardinals fallible, but they needed a miracle to get their sixth win on Sunday. Detroit alternates between road and home for the next six weeks, facing the Panthers, Texans, Bears, Packers, Titans and Bucs. They finish the season at home against the Vikings.
The Lions do not appear to be a team capable of going 5-2 or better against that schedule.
The next closest team after 5-5 Chicago, 4-5 Minnesota and 4-5 Detroit would be the 4-6 49ers. San Francisco’s next game is in Los Angeles in Week 12 and if the Rams win that, it’s all but over for the Niners. If LA happens to lose, the 49ers must still face the Bills, Cardinals and Seahawks, in addition to the Football Team and Cowboys.
I think John Lynch will be onto his next round of overrated and abysmal offseason moves quite soon.
We are not far from simply discussing the order of NFC playoff teams (and who least-loses the East) and the LA Rams are in that discussion. They are also in the discussion for the number one seed.
The Rams sit only one game behind the Packers and Saints for the best record in the conference. New Orleans will be playing without quarterback Drew Brees for at least 2-3 games, likely more. The bigger roadblock to the top seed seems to be Green Bay but they face a difficult assignment this Sunday in Indianapolis against the Colts.
We can’t ignore that the Packers were blown out by Tampa Bay this season and aren’t far removed from a loss to the Vikings. They face an easier remaining schedule than most but still have to play the Bears twice, the Titans, Panthers, Eagles and Lions down the stretch.
And the Bucs ... they’re next on the Rams’ schedule for Monday Night Football in Week 11. If LA can upset Tampa (they are slight underdogs), it puts them in fantastic position to push for the all-important one seed. If the Rams do lose this one, the Bucs could at least pick up a loss the following week against the 8-1 Kansas City Chiefs.
Their final four games include two against the Falcons, plus the Vikings and Lions.
I’m not sure where the Rams will be playing in the playoffs, but I’m sure they’ll be there.