Following Monday night’s loss in Green Bay, the Rams are now eliminated officially from playoff contention. It feels a lot like putting the family dog down at age 17 after he/she can no longer walk and has been blind for months. It’s almost merciful and it allows fans to shift focus onto the 2023 draft and simply hating on division rivals. Should be a fun week of football as teams jockey for position and try to squeak into the playoff field.
The Jaguars are quite possibly the hottest team in football right now and Trevor Lawrence seems to have finally turned the corner that I always expected him to. The Jets have sunk in the last month and will face another week with Zach Wilson behind center. Much will be made of the Lawrence vs Wilson matchup as they were both taken #1 and #2 in their draft. However, it isn’t close and the better QB will likely come away with a win in this one. Former Rams to watch: CB Darious Williams of the Jaguars and DE John Franklin-Myers, S Lamarcus Joyner of the Jets.
Root for: Either team as they won’t affect the Rams draft position
This game will depend completely on how well Justin Fields can manage to keep the Bears in this game. The talent deficiency here is oceanic deep. The Bills are well on their way to a deep playoff run and are looking to grab the top seed and possibly home field advantage in the AFC. Former Rams to watch: G Rodger Saffold of the Bills.
Root for: The Bears to dip down in the draft board
Both of these teams are still alive in the playoff hunt and the Saints are somehow only one game back in their division at 5-9. Deshaun Watson kicked off some rust last week and could manage to lead his team to the playoffs if he gets hot and wins out. Former Rams to watch: S John Johnson of the Browns.
Root for: The Saints to win and stay behind the Rams in the draft
The worst team in football heads to Tennessee to face a team that will likely be without Ryan Tannehill for the remainder of the season. Rookie Malik Willis has shown he is not yet ready for the NFL game in the spot work he’s gotten so far. Can he surprise and lead this Titans team to the playoffs? Former Rams to watch: WR Brandin Cooks of the Texans and WR Robert Woods of the Titans.
Root for: The Titans to win and remain behind the Rams come 2023
Geno Smith and the Seahawks are chasing a playoff berth and likely need to beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead to keep those hopes alive. There might not be a tougher ask in all of football and I don’t expect it to happen. Keep an eye on Jerick McKinnon who has blown up as a receiver out of the backfield in recent weeks. Former Rams to watch: C Austin Blythe of the Seahawks.
Root for: The Chiefs because it’s time to laugh at the failure of division rivals
The Giants are the biggest fakers with 8+ wins across the entire league and head into Minnesota to face the team that finds ways to win no matter what level of diversity they face. The Vikings have home field advantage and are in the mix for a bye in round one of the playoffs. Former Rams to watch: TE Johnny Mundt of the Vikings and S Terrell Burgess of the Giants.
Root for: The Vikings because the Giants don’t deserve to be 9-5-1
The Patriots are in a state of disarray with poor coaching personnel decisions and a young QB who has not lived up to the billing. They are still alive in the playoff hunt but will have to get past the white hot Bengals and Joe Burrow. There aren’t any notable former Rams in this one.
Root for: The Bengals because Joe Burrow is fun to watch
The Lions have morphed into one of the most enjoyable teams to watch on Sunday. I put Jared Goff on the cover of this article because he’s been dealing recently. I’m pulling for the Lions to sneak into the playoffs and I truly believe they could make some noise there. Former Rams to watch: QB Jared Goff, WR Josh Reynolds, DT Michael Brockers and G Austin Corbett of the Panthers.
Root for: The Lions because they deserve to find success
I spoke somewhat highly of Desmond Ridder last week and I still believe in him despite him going through the usual rookie pains. The Ravens may have Lamar Jackson back and they need him if they hope to make the dance. Former Rams to watch: CB Marcus Peters of the Ravens and WR KhaDarel Hodge of the Falcons.
Root for: The Falcons to win and draft after the Rams in the second round next year
Washington Commanders @ San Francisco 49ers (Saturday 1:05 PST)
The Commanders dropped a must win game against the Giants last week and are likely on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Brock Purdy has led the 49ers admirably and will be playing meaningful football once the regular season ends. With a 10-4 record, the 49ers are poised to gain a high seed if they can win a few more games. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Samson Ebukam of the 49ers.
Root for: The Commanders because I really dislike the 49ers
How serious is the Jalen Hurts shoulder injury? If he misses this game, the NFL fans will be deprived of the best game of the week. Without Hurts, it’s hard to see how the Cowboys don’t coast to a victory here. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Dante Fowler Jr of the Cowboys and EDGE Robert Quinn of the Eagles.
Root for: The Eagles because the Cowboys are the most unlikable franchise in sports
Both of these teams are technically alive in the playoff hunt but would likely need to win out to qualify. I don’t really have faith in either of them to do so but the matchup should be a close one and the Raiders have a knack for keeping games close. There aren’t any notable former Rams in this game.
Root for: Whichever team, the outcome won’t affect the Rams
The Packers will likely have to win out to grab a wild card berth and they have to face a tough Miami team at home trying to regain a rhythm and get back into the win column. This has game of the week potential and should be an exciting one. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Justin Hollins of the Packers.
Root for: The Dolphins because Mike McDaniel is a fun coach to watch
The Cardinals are fighting the Rams for the bottom spot in the NFC West and welcome Tom Brady and the disappointing Buccaneers. The Buccaneers lead their division at 6-8 somehow and will look to establish some momentum on offense. There aren’t any notable former Rams in this one.
Root for: The Buccaneers because finishing in last place in division is a bad look
Justin Herbert leads the Chargers into Indianapolis to face Nick Foles who has assumed the starting role after yet another historical Matt Ryan meltdown. I’d assume the Chargers will roll here as they have been unstoppable since the return of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Former Rams to watch: RB Sony Michel, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, TE Gerald Everett and S Rodney McLeod of the Colts.
Root for: The Colts so they draft after the Rams this summer