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Rams back in race for NFC West crown after Cardinal loss

With help from ex-Ram QB Jared Goff, LA is in striking distance of first place.

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams have been tossed a lifeline by the Arizona Cardinals. In a huge upset, ex-Ram Jared Goff led the previously one-win Detroit Lions to victory over the Cards 30-12 on Sunday.

The loss elevates LA (9-4) within a half game of he Cardinals (10-4). If the Rams can overcome COVID-19 and the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday night, they will pull into a tie for the NFC West’s top spot with three games remaining in the regular season.

Both teams have tough games down the stretch

Next Sunday in Week 16, the Cardinals host the Indianapolis Colts. In Week 17, they travel to Dallas to battle the Cowboys and then close out the regular season hosting the Seattle Seahawks in Week 18.

The Colts have faced playoff-bound teams in three of their last four games, their only loss was a heartbreaker in the last 30 seconds versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys have won three games in a row and are battling for the NFC’s top seed. Admittedly, the Hawks won’t have much to play for except pride.

After Tuesday’s home game vs. Seattle, the Rams go on the road in Week 16 vs. the Baltimore Ravens and again in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings, LA closes out the regular season slate hosting the San Francisco 49ers.

Pete Carroll and the Seahawks would like nothing more than to knock off the resurgent Rams. Baltimore is trying to hold onto first place in the AFC North, and may be without star quarterback Lamar Jackson, due to an ankle injury. Minnesota has played better than their record indicates, Four of seven losses have been by three points or less and the others were by a touchdown and extra point or less. There’s no need to explain to Rams fans why the 49ers game will tough.

What are the tie breaker procedures?

According to NFL.com

To Break A Tie Within A Division

If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the same division finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.

Two Clubs

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

Arizona holds the advantage as things stand right now. With the first tie breaker step a push, things become a murky mix of “what' if’s”. Any win, loss or even a tie could mean starting the playoffs on the road instead of at home, for either team

The Cards can control their own destiny by winning out their final three games. But they are suddenly struggling and the next two games are against solid competition.

With all their COVID-19 problems and four tough games, the Rams need to grab the life-line they have been tossed with all they can muster and pull themselves up to the top of the NFC West.