This season of “NFL” just wouldn’t have been the same if Week 18 was a meaningless finale. The Los Angeles Rams did what they needed to do in order to stay in first place in the NFC West, improving to 12-4 with a win over the Baltimore Ravens, but the Arizona Cardinals held on to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the afternoon slate and now stand at 11-5.
The NFC West division race is now very simple: If the Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18, they win. If the 49ers beat the Rams and the Cardinals defeat the Seattle Seahawks, then LA slides down to a wild card spot.
The NFC playoff standings—prior to the Green Bay Packers hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football—have the Packers in first place at 12-3 and the Rams in the two-seed at 12-4. Had the Cowboys won, they would be in the two-seed, but LA got to stay there and ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Update: With Green Bay defeating the Vikings on Sunday, they will hold the NFC’s 1 seed
The Rams beat the Bucs in Week 3, a game that is looking even more important with hindsight.
If the LA Rams do suffer the worst case scenario, they will drop into the five-seed and they can go no lower than that. That could mean going on the road to face the Dallas Cowboys. Because if Arizona wins, they should have any head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over the Cowboys because they beat them on Sunday.
As long as the Rams win next week, they should be no worse than the two-seed and that could mean hosting the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, or even a rematch against the 49ers. If the Packers lose their next two games and the Rams beat the 49ers in Week 18, then LA will have a bye week and homefield advantage in the playoffs.
This season finale has plenty of excitement remaining.
What scenario do you think will happen?