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4 most likely Rams playoff scenarios over final two weeks of the season

What are the most likely playoff scenarios for the Rams?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is coming to a close and the Los Angeles Rams currently have a 65 percent chance to make the postseason. With the way the season is ending up, it would not be a surprise if the Rams and 49ers are the matchup on Sunday Night Football in Week 18. The number one seed and final wild card spot could be on the line in that game. Here are the games to keep an eye on over the final two weeks and the most likely playoff scenarios.

Week 17

There are two games that matter for the Rams in Week 17. Those two games are the Seattle Seahawks against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings against the Green Bay Packers. With the Rams’ win over the New Orleans Saints, the Rams hold the tiebreaker over the potential wild card teams in the NFC South.

Rams Win + Seahawks Loss

If the Rams win and the Seahawks lose on Sunday, Los Angeles would clinch a playoff spot. This is obviously the ideal scenario and had Seattle lost either of the last two games in which they won on game-winning drives, the Rams would already be in. The Steelers will be starting Mason Rudolph at quarterback and will be without Minkah Fitzpatrick. Rudolph played well last week, but Fitzpatrick completely changes what the Steelers can do on defense. With this game in Seattle, this seems unlikely.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers

This will be the game to watch for the Rams in Week 17. A Vikings win would move the Packers to 7-9 and make it impossible for Green Bay to end up with the same record as the Rams. That’s significant as the Packers hold the tiebreaker over the Rams due to the infamous Brett Rypien game. While this game is in Minnesota and the Packers will be without their top two cornerbacks in Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes, the Vikings are starting rookie Jaren Hall at quarterback.

It is worth noting that if this game ends in a tie and the Rams win, Los Angeles would clinch a playoff spot. A tie seems extremely unlikely, although, there has not been one yet this season. With a Vikings win over the Packers, the Rams would simply need the Detroit Lions to beat Minnesota at home next week to make the postseason. That’s better than the alternative which is the Chicago Bears winning at Lambeau Field for the first time since 2015 or needing a win on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.

What if the Rams lose to the Giants?

In the case that the unthinkable happens and the Rams lose to the Giants, their playoff chances drop to 15 percent. With that said, Los Angeles could still make the postseason with a win against the 49ers and Vikings or Packers loss in Week 18, depending on who wins the Week 17 game. A win against the Giants keeps the Rams in control of their own destiny.

Week 18

Depending on what happens in Week 17 in the Vikings-Packers game, there are two other games that matter in Week 18. If the Vikings beat the Packers, the Rams will be paying attention to Minnesota’s game against the Detroit Lions. In the case that the Packers “upset” the Vikings, Los Angeles would be watching Green Bay’s game against the Bears. The Rams will also be paying minor attention to the Seahawks game on the road against the Cardinals.

Lions vs. Vikings OR Packers vs. Bears

Of course, the Rams can make the postseason simply by beating the 49ers in Week 17. However, with a Bears or Lions win, depending on the Week 17 result on Sunday Football, the Rams result won’t matter. Again, the more favorable matchup here would be the Lions and Vikings. If Detroit is still playing for the number one seed, they will play their starters. At home, the Lions would be favored.

While the Bears have been playing better, that wouldn’t be the case at Lambeau Field in Week 18. Chicago hasn’t won at Lambeau Field since 2018. Anything can happen, but the Rams would likely trust Dan Campbell and Jared Goff at home more than Matt Eberflus and Justin Fields on the road against division rivals.

Cardinals vs. Seahawks

The Rams will also be paying minor attention to the Seahawks game on the road against the Cardinals. In the case that the Packers or Vikings win their Week 18 games, the Rams hold the tiebreaker over the Seahawks. A Cardinals win would drop Seattle to 9-8 if they beat the Steelers, giving the Rams the advantage.

What are the Rams’ Playoff Scenarios?

1. Taking the Favorites

  • Seahawks finish 10-7
  • Rams finish 9-8
  • Packers/Vikings finish 8-9

In the case that all of the current betting favorites win, the Rams would end up as the seventh seed and play the Philadelphia Eagles on Wild Card weekend. Given how both teams are currently playing, the Rams would have to feel relatively good about this matchup.

2. Rams Win Out Scenario Sets Up Matchup Against Lions

  • Rams finish 10-7
  • Seahawks finish 10-7
  • Vikings/Packers finish 9-8
  • Lions finish 12-5
  • Eagles finish 13-4

This would be the scenario that everyone would want as the most likely first-round matchup would be against the Lions in Detroit at Ford Field. It would mark Matthew Stafford’s first game back in Detroit since being traded by the Lions. In this scenario, the Rams would be the sixth seed and the Lions be the third seed. The Rams can also face Detroit as the 7th seed if the Lions beat the Dallas Cowboys and the 49ers win out. This would make for a three-way tie between the 49ers, Lions, and Eagles at 13-4. The 49ers would be the one-seed in that case with Detroit as the two and Philadelphia at three.

3. Can the Rams play the 49ers in the playoffs?

  • Rams finish 10-7, putting 49ers at 12-5
  • Seahawks finish 10-7
  • Vikings/Packers finish 9-8
  • Lions finish 13-4
  • Eagles finish 13-4

The most likely scenario for the Rams to play the 49ers in both Week 18 and on Wild Card Weekend begins with the Lions winning in Week 17 against the Cowboys. For this scenario to happen, the Rams would need to finish 10-7 and as the sixth seed in the NFC. This would make the 49ers the third seed at 12-5 and behind both the Lions and Eagles at 13-4.

There is a scenario in which the Rams can play the 49ers as the seventh seed, but it requires the Rams to lose in Week 18, the Vikings or Packers to finish 9-8 and the Seahawks to also drop one of their two remaining games. Los Angeles can also play the 49ers if they win out in the case that the Lions also win out.

4. Disaster Scenario

  • Rams finish 9-8
  • Seahawks finish 10-7
  • Vikings/Packers finish 9-8

Unfortunately, the Rams haven’t clinched which means that there is a scenario in which they won’t make the playoffs. The good news is that LA is in control of their own destiny. With that said, a loss in any of their last two games and the picture can completely change. If the Rams lose to the 49ers and either the Seahawks and either Packers or Vikings also win out, the Rams would miss the postseason.