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NFL playoffs 2021: What Rams must do to secure NFC West title in Week 18

The Arizona Cardinals did what they needed to do to keep their division hopes alive in the season finale

Los Angeles Rams v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

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?