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5 most important games left for the Rams on NFL schedule

5 games that could have a serious impact on the Rams playoff chances.

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

We are heading into the final stretch of the NFL season. With just five weeks to go, games are going to get more important, especially with playoff spots on the line. With the Los Angeles Rams sitting at 6-6 and in the thick of the NFC playoff race, there is little doubt that they will have a close eye on certain results around the league. Obviously, it’s more important for the Rams to take care of business and control what they can. At the same time, there are certain games that are beneficial to their playoff chances. Here are the top-5 games that the Rams should be watching over the final five weeks.

1. Week 16: New Orleans Saints @ Los Angeles Rams

The Rams essentially are going to have a playoff game in Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints. There is a legitimate chance that whoever wins this game ends up in one of the final two wild card spots. With two weeks until this game takes place, there is a 42 percent differential on making the playoffs if the Rams win or lose that game. If both teams are 7-7 heading into that Week 16 matchup, the Rams would have a 64 percent chance to make the playoffs with a win and just a 14 percent chance with a loss.

On the bright side, this game will be at home for the Rams and it’s on a short week as it is a Thursday Night game. Throughout the Sean McVay era, the Rams and Saints have had a small rivalry. The Week 16 matchup will only add to that despite Sean Payton and Drew Brees no longer being with the organization. If the Rams want to make the postseason, the game against the Saints is the definition of a must-win.

2. Week 16: Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

A common theme of this list is going to be needing the Minnesota Vikings to lose. While the Vikings didn’t look good against the Chicago Bears, it’s important to remember that it was just one game and it’s still unsure how they’re going to look moving forward depending on who is at quarterback. There’s a realistic chance that the Vikings beat both the Raiders and the Bengals. They could lose those games as well, but the Bengals game isn’t nearly as daunting as it might have been a month ago before Joe Burrow got hurt.

If the Vikings are sitting at 8-6 heading into this game along with the Packers, a Minnesota upset over the Lions puts a real dampener on the Rams’ playoff hopes. Los Angeles’ playoff chances drop from 44 percent to just 20 percent even if they beat the Saints. That would essentially force the Rams win out and then hope for a Lions win at home against the Vikings in Week 18.

3. Week 14: Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

This game doesn’t have a lot of implications when it comes to the Rams making the playoffs. However, it still is important for a scenario that the Rams should be following. This game will have huge implications on the number one seed. There is a possibility that the Rams are playing the 49ers in Week 18 and then again on Wild Card weekend in the case that San Francisco is the second seed and Rams are the seventh seed.

Now, this isn’t to say that the Rams should necessarily be cheering for the 49ers to get the top seed in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. However, it would also be nice to avoid a team that the Rams have struggled against in the Sean McVay era. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the 49ers would have a 55 percent chance at the top seed. In the case that they lose, that drops to 31 percent.

4. Week 17: Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings

The Week 17 matchup between the Packers and Vikings may end up being the most important game for the Rams over the course of the remainder of the season. There’s a chance that this game decides which NFC North team makes the postseason as a wild card. Given that the Packers have the head-to-head advantage over the Rams, it’s best that they win this game to knock the Vikings out.

Depending on certain scenarios, there’s a chance that there is a 50 point swing depending on who wins this game. In the case that the Rams are 9-7 heading into that Sunday Night Game with the Packers at 9-6 and Vikings at 8-7, a Green Bay win would give the Rams a 72 percent chance at the postseason. This game could also basically lock up a wild card spot for the Rams with a Vikings loss.

5. Week 18: Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

There is a very real scenario in which the Rams playoff hopes comes down to whether or not they can beat the 49ers on the road in Week 18. If that’s the case and the 49ers are also playing for the number one seed, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this game get flexed into the Sunday Night slot.

This scenario would be worst case scenario only happens if the Rams are tied in record with the Vikings heading into Week 18. With the Rams’ bad record against the 49ers, the last thing they would want is for their playoff hopes to come down to beating their biggest division rival on the road.