Maybe Jared Goff has been rooting against his former team ever since he was traded for Matthew Stafford in 2021, but now he’s got even more incentive to see the L.A. Rams lose: The playoffs. If the Rams fall to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Goff’s Detroit Lions will punch their ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2016, when Stafford was the quarterback.
Though the Lions can still get in the playoffs—and clinch their first division title in 30 years—if they beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, a loss by L.A. would guarantee their postseason berth before the weekend even starts. Goff may not consider that “revenge”, but it could certainly be schadenfreude.
Playoff clinching scenarios for Week 16: pic.twitter.com/QIhOtFGTQI— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 19, 2023
The Lions are 10-4 and they hold a three-game lead in the NFC North with three games to go. Only the Vikings are holding onto a miracle sliver of hope, as they are 7-7 and play two of the next three against Detroit. However, the Vikings are down to Nick Mullens, their fourth different quarterback of the season. Another former Ram, head coach Kevin O’Connell, is hoping to get Minnesota for the second time in two years since being hired away as L.A.’s former OC.
Goff had five touchdowns in his most recent start, giving him 26 on the season and coming close to his career-high of 32, which was set with the Rams in 2018. If he can help the Lions win their last three games, it would be the first time in the 94-year history of the franchise that they won at least 13. Even 12-5 would be only the second time that Detroit ever won that many games before.
The Lions have only won three division titles in the Super Bowl era.
A Rams loss would guarantee that at worst, Detroit takes a wild card berth over L.A., even if the Lions lost their last three games. The Rams have already won a Super Bowl thanks to trading two firsts and Goff for Stafford. Now Goff hopes he can do the same for the Lions.
The Rams are roughly 50% to make the playoffs, per the NY Times playoff simulator, a number that jumps to 66% if they beat the Saints. L.A. can all but guarantee a berth if they win out and the team they could immediately face: The Detroit Lions.
What a trip around the circle that would be.