On a normal weekend, this space is reserved for the Los Angeles Rams viewing and/or listening information on that week’s game. But alas, there is no Rams action to infuriate and befuddle fans this Sunday. There are mid-season grades to ponder, and decisions to be made as to who should get the lion share of play time going forward. But what games should L.A. fans be watching and where should rooting interests lie?
Here’s a hint. How about completely forgetting about the three-game losing streak and root home some winners that would help the Rams in the playoff race. If you’re going to dream, dream big. It just so happens all four teams ahead of L.A. in the race for the seventh playoff position are playing on Sunday. The Rams sit at 3-6, behind the 4-5 Washington Commanders, 4-5 Atlanta Falcons, 3-5 Green Bay Packers, and 3-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The seven teams currently penciled in for the playoffs (although lightly written so extended use of an eraser won’t threadbare the paper):
- Philadelphia Eagles- 8-1 and leading the NFC East
- Detroit Lions- 6-2 and leading the NFC North
- San Francisco 49ers- 5-3 and leading the NFC West
- New Orleans Saints- 5-4 and leading the NFC South
- Seattle Seahawks- 5-3 and Wildcard #1 on tiebreaker #4, best W/L% within conference
- Dallas Cowboys- 5-3 and Wildcard #2 based on tiebreaker #4
- Minnesota Vikings- 5-4 and Wildcard #3
These games mean the most to Rams fans
San Francisco 49ers @ Jacksonville Jaguars - 10 a.m. PST on Fox
Any Rams fan should just naturally root against the boys from the Bay in 99% of situations, but a Jags victory would put the Rams within two games of the ‘Niners and the rivals have a showdown in the final week of the season. Just sayin’.
New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings - 10 a.m. on Fox
The Rams stand to gain some ground either way this game turns. First things first, cull the weak and sick from the herd. The Vikings are likely going to struggle without their QB#1, so root for the Saints to win and dismiss the Purple People Eaters from the Wildcard race. Nawlins’ is coming to L.A. on 12/21 and have two tough divisional games following that.
Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers - 10 a.m. PST on CBS
While the Pack holds the tiebreaker with L.A. they are in the midst of a string of tough games, After traveling to the Steel City, they must consecutively face the L.A. Chargers, Detroit Lions, and Kansas City Chiefs. A loss to the Steelers might really start them on a downward spiral.
Tennessee Titans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 10 a.m. PST on CBS
L.A. needs the Titans to pull off the upset, the Bucs don’t have a great record, but do have a handful of winnable games down the stretch. Right now the Rams have a slight edge in the tiebreaker if they would finish even.
Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals - 1:05 p.m. PST on CBS
Go Redbirds! The Falcons are having QB problems and Arizona is getting Kyler Murray back on the field. Atlanta may fade down the stretch on their own, but an Arizona upset might start the folding early.
Washington Commanders @ Seattle Seahawks - 1:25 p.m. PST on Fox
Another game where L.A. will move up a bit, no matter the victor, but a Commanders victory is best for the Rams. Seattle has to look forward to two games with the 49ers, single games with Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, and road trips to Dallas and Los Angeles. Washington’s slate is just as tough with two games against Dallas, the Miami Dolphins and 49ers going to the nations capitol, and the Rams hosting the Commanders on 12/17.
Back in the hunt?
No, not really. At best, the Rams could only move up one position in the “playoff standings.” But things would certainly tighten up considerably. Parity makes it possible that one and maybe two, of the Wildcard berth’s could go to 9-8 teams. I tried hard to pencil out a way for an 8-9 record to qualify, but it would take some really crazy bounces for that to occur.
Of course, L.A. will have to start taking care of business when they get back on the field for any playoff scenario to get a leg up in reality. The offense must awaken from hibernation, the defense has to get back to bending with less breaking, and the special teams need to be put on the field only when absolutely necessary.
But with no Rams action this week, fans might as well let their minds wander a bit, to good thoughts of a happy playoff place. In the words of mid-century American poet, Oddball, “Don’t hit me with them negative waves so early in the morning.”