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NFL playoff picture: Packers push Rams out of wild card spot

Rams improve to 6-6 and could now end up as a shocking playoff team in the NFC

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Rams Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have won more games in 2023 than they did in all of last season and they still have five more contests left to go. By defeating the Cleveland Browns 36-19 on Sunday, the Rams improved to 6-6 and temporarily held onto the NFC’s seventh and final wild card spot.

Then the Packers beat the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football and at 6-6 with a head-to-head victory, snatched it from the Rams for the time being. L.A. is now 8th in the NFC.

Because the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday and are 6-6 with two losses to L.A., that puts the Rams in second place in the NFC West and ahead of the Seahawks in the playoff picture. If the Rams can just win more games than they lose over the rest of the season, that should do enough to give L.A. a wild card spot and put them into an unpredictable postseason with NFC teams that appear to be inconsistent and all over the place.

Even the San Francisco 49ers, big winners over the Philadelphia Eagles this week, recently lost three games in a row.

The Rams, winners of three in a row, have road games left against the Ravens, Giants, and 49ers, with home games against the Commanders and Saints. It starts next week in Baltimore, then back-to-back games at SoFi Stadium with the Commanders and Saints. Neither of those two teams have a winning record.

If the Rams just beat teams with losing records, they will finish at least 9-8.

The Cowboys hold the first wild card spot at 9-3, now just one game behind the 10-2 Eagles. Next, the Minnesota Vikings are 6-6 and they have a better conference record than L.A. at 6-3 compared to 4-4. However, the Vikings are already down to their third quarterback, Josh Dobbs, and his job status is in question after another rough performance.

The Rams could argue that they have at least a top-3 QB in the NFC in Matthew Stafford, plus two of the NFC’s hottest skill players in Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua. The Rams trail the 49ers by three games and so that will be difficult to overcome unless San Francisco slips in the next four weeks, but the wild card path is easy to see and potentially as easy to traverse.