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Yes, the Rams will want homefield in the playoffs

LA plays much better in LA

New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The LA Rams are currently in the three seed in the NFC playoff standings and if they win out, 12-4 would assure them of being at least that high, if not number one. My opinion is that 12-4 probably gets them the two-seed, but it really could go either way. Are “all the seeds other than the one” essentially the same under the new seven-teams-per-conference playoff format?

My opinion is that they are not all the same.

The LA Rams are 5-1 at home this season and 4-3 on the road. In a strange twist of expectations though, Jared Goff has four touchdowns and four interceptions in six home games and 14 touchdowns in seven road games. However, he also has seven interceptions on the road, but let’s not get overhyped on raw stats.

One interception came in San Francisco on fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter. The Rams trailed 21-9 and opted to go for it after Cooper Kupp had dropped a would-be touchdown on the previous play.

Goff had no choice but to attempt to throw a touchdown. There was no point to tuck it and move onto the next play and I think this is forgivable. If Kupp catches that pass, then Goff has 15 touchdowns and six interceptions on the road. Similarly, how important is it that five of those 15 touchdown passes by Goff were from the four-yard line or closer?

Goff has 97 more attempts on the road this season than he has at home. Looking at his total number of touchdowns and interceptions and comparing the splits without key context is only misleading. To yourself and others.

If you are going to cite Goff’s home/road splits, then you should also include how the opposing quarterbacks do against the Rams, not just how Goff performs. If it is so important how one team’s QB performs, then surely it is equally as important to pay attention to the other side.

This season, Los Angeles has allowed only one touchdown pass and three rushing touchdowns at SoFi Stadium. That’s four touchdowns allowed in six home games and we already knew that the strength of the Rams is their defense. The Rams also have seven interceptions at home.

When they’ve gone on the road, the LA Rams have allowed 13 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns, for a total of 20 offensive touchdowns in seven games. They have six interceptions away from SoFi.

The last time the Rams allowed a passing touchdown at home was 17 minutes and 36 seconds into the season, when Dak Prescott threw a 19-yard score to Ezekiel Elliott in the second quarter of Week 1.

The next six away QBs to throw a pass at SoFi have combined for zero touchdowns and seven interceptions and the highest passer rating among them is Jarrett Stidham’s 77.7 on seven attempts. Among the ones who had at least 30 attempts, Nick Mullens has a big lead at 77.3.

If the Rams wound up with a wild card spot instead of winning the NFC West, then they’d potentially have to go to Seattle in the divisional round. If we want to talk about QB splits, then Wilson’s is 24 TD, 4 INT at home and 12 TD, 8 INT on the road. In his two most recent road games against the Rams, he has no touchdowns and three picks. In his two most recent home games against the Rams, he has seven touchdowns and no picks.

The Saints are 5-1 at home with that lone loss coming to Green Bay. They are 5-2 on the road, with losses to the Raiders and Eagles.

The Packers are 5-1 at home with a lone loss to the Minnesota Vikings. They are 5-2 on the road, with losses to the Bucs (by 28 points) and Colts (season-high four turnovers for a Green Bay team that is first in the NFL in turnovers).

I can’t seem to find any reasonable argument for why LA would be okay with any seed, if it’s not going to be the one seed.

  • The two seed would be guaranteed back-to-back home playoff games, so long as they win the wild card game. The two seed could find themselves hosting the winner of the NFC East or a wild card, including the Cardinals, Vikings or Bears, none of whom look like serious contenders to win more than a single playoff game if they make it in.
  • The three seed would host a playoff game and then if the two seed does happen to lose, would host a divisional round playoff game. This has never been possible before but now a three seed can host a divisional round game. Hosting the Bucs in the first round then hosting the Cardinals in the second round would seem preferable to going on the road to face the Packers or Seahawks or Saints in the first round, then going on the road to face the Packers or Seahawks or Saints in the second round. It’s possible the three seed could host the Bucs, then still have to go to Green Bay or New Orleans (or Los Angeles), but winning the division allows for the possibility of getting to stay at home in round two.

And we’ve seen that the Rams have continued to do what many-thousands of NFL games have already proven: there is a homefield advantage.