The LA Rams became the third NFC team to reach nine wins with their victory over the New England Patriots on Thursday night. Unfortunately, the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers remain in front of them in the playoff standings and have yet to play their Week 14 matchups and both are heavily favored to win.
How possible does it look for the Rams to land the number one seed?
Saints (10-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1)
New Orleans gets the starting debut of quarterback Jalen Hurts on Sunday. Is that good or bad? We will find out. Taysom Hill makes his fourth start in place of Drew Brees and while Sean Payton has managed to maximize his “dual threat” moniker in two starts against the Falcons (over 70% completions, over 230 yards, two total touchdowns in each game), Hill’s yet to prove his arm against a good defense.
If that’s not Philadelphia, then perhaps Kansas City or Minnesota will trip him up. But because the Saints have been playing so well on defense and they have Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and a great offensive line protecting Hill, I’m not sure that New Orleans finishes worse than 13-3. However, all it would take is a loss to the Chiefs and one upset.
That being said, if both teams are 12-4, I’m not so sure that LA would have the tiebreak advantage. Not unless two of New Orleans losses were to NFC opponents, rather than one coming from Kansas City. Then there’s also the matter of hoping that the Packers aren’t 12-4 or better.
Packers (9-3) at Detroit Lions (5-7)
Remaining: vs Panthers, vs Titans, at Bears
The Rams have only lost two conference games and they were both to the 49ers. If LA wins out, as they’ll need to if they have any shot of the number one seed (or number two, which would come in handy if the team advances to the divisional round), then they’ll finish with a 10-2 conference record.
Green Bay has two conference losses also (vs Bucs, Vikings) and one more conference loss would put them at no better than 9-3 in the NFC.
Detroit enters week two with interim head coach Darrell Bevell after having beaten the Chicago Bears 34-30 last week. Matthew Stafford actually swept the Packers in both 2017 and 2018, and took the Lions to the brink of victory in his one start against Green Bay in 2019. The Titans are also a formidable opponent, albeit on that has lost four of their last seven games.
Seahawks (8-4) vs New York Jets (0-12)
Remaining: at Washington, vs Rams, at 49ers
Another team that started 5-0 but has lost four of seven. The Seahawks lost at home last week to the Giants, do they have another one in them today against the Jets? It would ease some pressure on the Rams to not be “the team that loses to the Jets” when they face off next week.
Seattle had a lot of fancy passing stats early in the season but today they rank 24th in third down offense, 28th in third down defense and 27th in red zone defense. As they’ve added a couple players back to the defensive side of the ball, played some more favorable matchups, the Seahawks seem to be improving in stopping opponents but negatively regressing on offense.
However, it seems clear now that the Week 16 game vs the Seahawks and Rams will determine everything about the NFC West. But Football Team also looks perfectly capable of beating Seattle now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) vs Vikings (6-6)
Remaining: at Falcons, at Lions, Falcons
There’s no way the Bucs do better than a wild card and they’ve also lost to the Rams already. But just to clear all the bases, Tampa Bay is technically capable of going 11-5.