The Los Angeles Rams lost to the Miami Dolphins by a score of 28-17 on Sunday, dropping to 5-3 at the midway point of the season. The Rams have now lost to the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers and Dolphins, and thankfully two of those teams don’t represent conference losses.
That and a number of other reasons are why the Rams have a reasonable shot to make the postseason this year if they avoid a second half collapse. Here’s a quick review of the NFC West and the rest of the conference standings as Los Angeles currently sits in the seven seed for the playoffs with eight games to go.
Had the Niners won this week, San Francisco would be in third place and the Rams would be in fourth. Instead, Russell Wilson put some dehumidifiers in the room where a slab of cement is that says he’s the 2020 MVP (four more touchdowns this week gives Wilson 26 through seven games, one shy of Tom Brady’s NFL record) and Jimmy Garoppolo did the same for the slab that says “You Jimmy Garoppologottago.”
Garoppolo was unable to finish a game after a horrendous first half for the second time in four weeks and though Nick Mullens was playing under easier circumstances maybe that allowed him to boost his numbers, there has to be some speculation if he is the starter for the rest of the season.
San Francisco is only one game behind the Rams in the NFC West but they do have to face the 5-2 Green Bay Packers, 5-2 New Orleans Saints, the LA Rams and the 6-2 Bills in their next four games. For the Niners to be above .500 after 12 games, they need to play a lot better than they have so far this season and they would have to do it with Mullens or C.J. Beathard perhaps.
Seattle took one step closer to the top seed in the NFC and they hold a one game lead over the 5-2 Arizona Cardinals, who are on their bye week. But for as explosive as they are on offense, the Seahawks still rank 32nd in yards allowed and passing yards allowed. One reason they hope that won’t be the case moving forward: safety Jamal Adams and pass rusher Carlos Dunlap look to join the defense next week in Buffalo.
However, things can turn around in short order: if Seattle loses on the road to the Bills, the Rams could be a win over the Seahawks in Week 10 away from the standings saying 6-3 and 6-3 for both teams with the early tiebreaker going in LA’s favor.
NFC Wild Card Notes
- The Saints held a 23-13 lead over Chicago with under 4 minutes remaining, but needed overtime to beat the Bears 26-23. New Orleans is 5-2, but there’s something razor thin about their record: they’ve needed overtime to win two of the last three games and went down to the final minutes with the Panthers and Lions. The Saints are 32nd in red zone defense, 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed and 23rd in points allowed. The offense has been okay, but has been playing without Michael Thomas and that could change their outlook significantly if he returns for the second half.
- The Bears are 5-3 with a loss to the Rams, so right now LA has an important advantage. Chicago hasn’t scored more than 23 in any of their last five games and they’ve lost three of those contests. The defense is good but maybe not good enough to carry Nick Foles because giving up 20 points could be the nail in the coffin for Matt Nagy’s team. The Bears rank last in rushing touchdowns, 31st in rushing yards, 28th in net yards per pass attempt, 28th in points per game, 31st in third down offense and 30th in red zone offense.
- The Carolina Panthers have lost three in a row and at 3-5 are nearly out of the race. The Panthers have a similar problem to the Bears: they’ve got a lot of “Okay” and not much “Great” on the team. To avoid 3-7, Carolina can’t lose their next two games, which are against the Chiefs and Bucs.
- The Detroit Lions fell to 3-4 with a loss to the Indianapolis Colts. They have an easier time of scoring than the Panthers and Bears but are 26th in points allowed, 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed, 27th in third down defense and 26th in red zone defense. They’re also 24th in third down offense. The Lions face the Vikings, Football Team, Panthers, Texans and Bears in the next five. Matt Patricia needs to get them going on a run with that schedule otherwise Detroit could be replacing him soon.
- The 5-2 Bucs take on the New York Giants on Monday night. A win by Tampa Bay makes it that much more likely that the Saints are in a wild card position in January. A loss drops them to the same record as the Rams.
- There isn’t much of any other competition in the conference thanks to the NFC East. The Minnesota Vikings upset the Packers this week but at 2-5 are going to need some wins fast. Could that happen? The next five are: Lions, Bears, Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars. I would say 7-5 or 6-6 is possible.
- Green Bay is 5-2 now, hosting the 49ers this Thursday. A loss drops them to the same record as the Rams and keeps the NFC North tight up top.
Will the Rams make the playoffs?
This poll is closed