Let’s be honest, losing eight straight games against the dreaded San Francisco 49ers is just horrific and downright embarrassing. There is no way to sugar coat it, that team from the Bay area owns the L.A. Rams in the regular season, and it’s something that I’m sure is starting to get into the team’s psyche.
With that being said, the Rams are still very much in the hunt to win the NFC West. Losing to the Niners in the regular season has become the norm under Coach McVay and, although very annoying, it is not something that should be looked at as a factor that will completely derail the season. Even though last season’s team was better than this years version of the Rams, they too got swept by the 49ers, and that season ended in a Lombardi Trophy for Los Angeles.
I believe this team still has a shot to come out on top of the NFC West, at-worst a Wild Card berth, despite all of the naysayers out there that have given up on the 2022-2023 Rams.
The two matchups between the 49ers are already out of the way, and the Rams still have 10 more games to go. On the flip side, the 49ers will have to play 10 more football games that are NOT against the Rams, meaning they WILL lose more football games throughout the season.
The Niners now own the tie-breaker against the Rams, which will most likely decide the West if both teams finish with the same record, but their schedule for the remainder of the season is riddled with tough games. Following their bye week next Sunday, the 49ers will play, in this order, @ Chargers, @ Cardinals, vs. Saints, vs. Dolphins, vs. Bucs, @ Seahawks, vs. Commanders, @ Raiders, and finish vs. Cardinals. Although the Niners had a lot of key players out against the Falcons, they still lost the game, as well as a loss to a Denver team that has looked pretty horrid at times this year.
In my eyes, I see losses to the Chargers, one of the two against the Cardinals, loss to the Dolphins, and the Seahawks. The Bucs and Raiders games are both games that I could definitely see going both ways, but I’ll give SF the benefit of the doubt. That would have the 49ers finishing the season at 10-7, with the possibility of 9-8.
Taking a look at the division-leading Seahawks remaining schedule, and there are some losses in there as well, although they have an easier outlook than the 49ers. They’ll face Arizona on the road next week, then the Bucs overseas, vs. Raiders, @ Rams, vs. Panthers, vs, 49ers, @ Chiefs, vs. Jets, vs. Rams. The next two games for Seattle will be huge, because I could see two wins in a row as well as two losses in a row, so that will be pivotal for how things shake out. I could see Seattle finishing in the 10-7 or 9-8 area as well, making the two games against the Rams potentially having massive postseason implications.
Now, looking at the L.A. Rams’ remaining schedule, it goes as follows: vs. Bucs, vs. Cardinals, @ Saints, @ Chiefs, vs. Seahawks, vs. Raiders, @ Packers, vs. Broncos, @ Chargers, @ Seahawks. While attempting to be as unbiased as possible, I could see a 3 game win streak coming up, dropping the Chiefs game, splitting with the Seahawks, and losing to the Chargers. No Davante is a death sentence for Green Bay, and the Rams will beat either the Raiders or Broncos at home (if not both). That would leave the Rams at 10-7, I could also see 9-8. No matter how ugly, the Rams MUST beat the teams that are just as flawed as themselves, as the NFC seems to be very close in terms of teams not named the Eagles.
The upcoming game against Tampa Bay is massive, an absolute must-win in my eyes if the Rams want to have a shot at making the postseason. The remaining schedule consists of only three opponents with winning records and, although L.A. does not have a winning record themselves, they do have a solid defensive unit and an offense that showed great flashes in the first half against the 49ers.
The race for the West is far from over, as well as the race to sneak in as the 7th seed. There is no question that the Rams need to start turning a corner soon here, but to put a dagger through them just because they’ve lost to a team who has swept them in the regular season four straight seasons is blasphemous.
The NFL, as strange as it sounds, consists of match-ups where one team seems to always get the best of the other. We saw an example of this on Monday Night, where a 2-6 Browns team beat the absolute breaks off of a Cincinnati team that seemed to be finding their groove following two straight victories. Putting a grave on the Rams season just seven games in is premature and unwarranted, and I am of full belief that they will right the ship and be playing football through January.