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Rams schedule now turns into ‘hot seat alley’; can L.A. use it for playoff push?

The next 3 teams on Rams schedule—Commanders, Saints, Giants—should all consider coaching changes

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams may have lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but what they proved in the process is that they are one of the best teams in the NFC after the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys. Now with three upcoming games against teams that have losing records, and all three franchises should consider firing their head coach at the conclusion of the season, Sean McVay has a chance to win six of seven and guarantee the Rams a winning record and probably a spot in the playoffs.

If it comes at the cost of Ron Rivera, Dennis Allen, and/or Brian Daboll losing their jobs, that comes with the territory of having the most high-pressured job in football. Will McVay be the one to put the nail in the coffin for these coaches and forever alter their futures in the NFL?

The Rams should be favored in all three games, setting up an important season finale against the San Francisco 49ers that could decide their postseason fate, even if the 49ers are implored to sit starters if they’ve already clinched a playoff seed by then. A year ago, McVay was contemplating if his NFL head coaching career should come to an end or put on pause, and now he’s on the other end of it: Win these next three games and he could have a small part in ending the careers of three head coaches in the NFC.

Will it happen?

Rams 4th-best team in NFC?

Not even the 9-4 Lions, after losing two of three including Week 14’s loss to the Chicago Bears, can claim to definitely be better than the 6-7 Rams. L.A. went to Baltimore and lost 37-31 in overtime, but the Ravens hosted the Lions and Seahawks and won those games 38-6 and 37-3, respectively. Those teams were dominated by Baltimore, a team that has rarely been challenged by an NFC team as significantly as what the Rams were able to bring, and now it’s starting to show why.

The Seahawks have lost four straight and five of six, while the Lions just lost 28-13 to the Bears and two weeks earlier were defeated by the Packers. Detroit hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record since the Chiefs in Week 1, a 21-20 victory that did not feature Chris Jones or Travis Kelce.

Show me Lions-Rams right now and convince me that L.A. doesn’t win that game or at least push Detroit to the brink. That is not nearly as good of a team as the Eagles, 49ers, and Cowboys. It could also end up being a wild card matchup if the Rams get the second wild card spot after either Dallas or Philadelphia.

Hot Seat Head Coaches

Week 15 - Ron Rivera, Commanders

Rivera is perhaps only still Washington’s head coach because of the complications that come with firing a head coach in the middle of a season, especially when he and also-likely-to-be-fired GM Martin Mayhew have their hands in every cookie jar. New owner Josh Harris is all but certain to want to hire his own head coach and GM, especially because Washington ranks 32nd, dead last, in points and yards allowed this season.

It is a great opportunity for McVay, almost a year after blowing out the Broncos on Christmas, to dial up another 40+ point performance on offense. If that happens, do not be surprised if the Commanders cut ties with Rivera the next day and ride out the last three games with an interim head coach.

Honestly though, Harris may actually be concerned that an interim coach would have a better chance of winning a game at the end than Rivera, which could cost Washington a shot at the second quarterback in the draft.

Week 16 - Dennis Allen, Saints

Making Dennis Allen the head coach after Sean Payton quit feels like getting a gift you didn’t want at a while elephant party and then deciding not to trade it for something else because you were too tired to get up again. That’s all Allen feels like: The coach the Saints were too tired to replace.

No more excuses for being too tired because Allen is not an NFL head coach.

The Saints have one victory over a winning team, beating the Colts, another overrated team, when they were 3-5. The Saints are 6-7 but have two wins over the Panthers, the NFL’s worst team, plus wins over the Patriots, Bears, and Titans. And you can’t even say that it’s Allen’s fault that the team paid Derek Carr in free agency, because it kind of is his fault.

Allen won’t be fired midseason because New Orleans will be in the race to win the NFC South (a three-way tie of 6-7 teams) until the very end. The Saints could make the playoffs and we’ve seen losing playoff teams win a wild card game, but that’s as far as New Orleans could go. At that point, the Saints will need to muster up the energy to make the change they could have made two years ago.

Week 17 - Brian Daboll, Giants

Certainly the most controversial name of the three because he was Coach of the Year in 2022 (did he deserve it though?), and because New York has rebounded to win their last two games. Let’s recap New York’s four wins this season:

The Giants barely beat the Cardinals 31-28, needing a dramatic fourth quarter comeback.

The Giants swept the previously-mentioned Commanders.

The Giants just beat the Patriots 10-7, the second-worst team in the NFL.

If you remove games against teams that aren’t currently slated to pick in the top-4 of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Giants are 0-8.

They lost two games to the Cowboys by a combined score of 89-17. They lost to the Raiders 30-6 after Josh McDaniels had been fired. They lost to Zach Wilson. They allowed 11 sacks to the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, making Seattle look a lot better on defense than they actually are.

Daboll is the “least likely to be fired”? WHY?

Remove all the conceived notions you had about an overrated wild card appearance last season when they were 9-7-1 (and went 3-6-1 in the final 10 games) and an overrated win over the Vikings in the playoffs, a team nobody expected to be the real deal, and what do you have? The Giants are probably as bad or worse than the Panthers even though New York spent all that money on Daniel Jones and has had two years to improve the supporting cast, with almost all of their moves being the wrong ones.

The Giants are 31st or 32nd in almost any key offensive stat.

No Giants head coach has made it to his third year with the team since Tom Coughlin in 2006. I can’t get on board with Daboll making it to his third year either.

What Rams can control

Obviously all the Rams can control is how they perform on the field and how they communicate and they don’t know or care if any of these coaches will be fired. Nonetheless, it is interesting that the next three games all come against teams in turmoil and that couldn’t hurt L.A.’s chances to win the games that they need to win in order to make the playoffs under McVay.

A coach that decided to stay and one who based on the Rams season so far, is likely to be with L.A. for a while longer.