The Los Angeles Rams head into the regular season finale holding the number two seed in the NFC. The Rams can’t move up to the one seed and overtake the Green Bay Packers but a win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday will guarantee their place as the team that is second-most likely to host the NFC Championship game...should they get there.
So yes, whether you prefer a wild card matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles or are a glutton for road games, there is unquestionably a benefit to the Rams if they can lockdown the two-seed in the NFC:
1) Host round one matchup
2) Avoid Lambeau Field in round two (four straight losses in Green Bay, including in 2020 playoffs, plus Matthew Stafford has only one career win vs. Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau despite 12 years with the Lions)
3) Guaranteed homefield advantage in round two, if the Rams win in round one
It’s possible that if the Rams win the two-seed that they could play every playoff game at SoFi Stadium, including the Super Bowl, and beating the 49ers in Week 18 guarantees LA’s place in the playoffs. However, we also know that the Rams have lost five straight games to San Francisco and that Sean McVay is just 1-3 at home against Kyle Shanahan.
We must ask the question: What if the Rams lose? For information on LA’s potential wild card opponents, read the next link...
If Rams lose, they’ll need help to secure the two-seed and the NFC West title:
- If Rams lose and the Bucs win, then Tampa Bay will leap over LA because of a better record (13-4 vs 12-5); The Bucs host the 6-10 Carolina Panthers in Week 18, a team that Tampa Bay defeated 32-6 only two weeks ago
- If Rams lose and the Cowboys win, Dallas will leap over LA because of a superior conference record (10-2 vs 8-4); The Cowboys are on the road to face the 9-7 Eagles on Saturday night, a team that Dallas defeated 41-21 in Week 3 and Philadelphia has already secured its postseason berth as a wild card
- If Rams lose and the Cardinals win, Arizona will leap over LA and win the NFC West division because of a superior division record (5-1 vs 3-3); The Cardinals host the 6-10 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, a team that Arizona defeated 23-13 in Week 12 and Seattle has little to play for other than pride and potentially Pete Carroll and/or Russell Wilson’s final game with the Seahawks
Essentially, if LA loses to the 49ers, they could be bypassed not only by the Bucs and Cowboys in the playoff standings, but also lose the division title to the Cardinals. All three teams face favorable matchups in Week 18 and will have something to play for, so the Rams are offered no reprieve, relaxation, or chance to rest against the Niners—which is potentially for the best anyway.
Playoffs begin NOW.