The NFC West crown seemed wrapped up merely a few weeks ago. Fast forward the clock to the present, and the Los Angeles Rams are not only nipping at the heels of the divisional leader in the Arizona Cardinals, but are on the verge of overtaking them for the divisional crown.
The Rams avenged their loss to the Cardinals in Week 14 on Monday Night Football. Meanwhile, the Cardinals went and lost to the lowly Detroit Lions. What we have now is a division race that’s going to come down to the wire as both teams sit at 10-4.
With the Rams losing two divisional games so far, the Rams will need to virtually win out or get close to perfection to win the division. Let’s take a look at what the Rams essentially need to clinch the divisional title.
Rams: @MIN, @BAL, vs. SF
Cardinals: vs. IND, @DAL, vs. SEA
The Los Angeles Rams have a very difficult remaining schedule against three potential playoff teams. First up this week will be a matchup against a Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have been up-and-down this season, but are one of the only teams to defeat the Green Bay Packers. However, they were also the first team to lose to the winless Lions.
A victory against the Vikings is one of the most essential in the remaining schedule. The reason for this is that the Cardinals are facing one of the hottest teams in the AFC in the Indianapolis Colts. After back-to-back losses, the Cardinals are struggling heavily, and this week would be the perfect time for the Rams to strike and take the division lead.
Week 17 features a clash against another playoff hopeful, and a more likely one in the Baltimore Ravens. The game will be in Baltimore, and crucial to the Ravens in their fight for a playoff spot and the AFC North lead.
The Ravens will have the dangerous dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson available who has been dealing with injuries. The last time these two teams met, the Los Angeles Rams were blown out and the game was over in the third quarter. Jackson will surely test the Rams in this one.
However, a win against the Ravens would also be vital. The Cardinals have another tough matchup as they travelto Dallas to face the Cowboys. The Cowboys have been struggling on offense, but have one of the best defenses in the NFL led by Micah Parsons.
The finale matchups for both teams are difficult. The Cardinals will be facing a Seahawks team that is out of playoff contention. However, without a first-round pick this year, they will still try to salvage a win in terms of dignity.
The Los Angeles Rams on the other side will be trying to avenge their loss to the 49ers from earlier in the season. The Rams haven’t defeated the 49ers since 2018. This matchup could be big as it could be a chance for the Rams to clinch the division and keep the 49ers out of the playoff. Seeding for the Rams could also be on the line.
In a Nutshell
The Los Angeles Rams and Cardinals are tied in terms of records at 10-4 with three games to play. However, the Rams can really take this division away from Arizona with the Cardinals taking on two difficult teams in the Colts and Cowboys. The curtain may be pulled off a team everyone thought was indestructible.
With the season-ending injury to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, this Cardinals offense may be sputtering out of control – at just the right time for the Rams.
The way this season is going, the Los Angeles Rams can and should win at least two of their last three. Games against the Vikings and 49ers will be essential if the Rams are going to win the NFC West. From there, it’s about hoping that the Cardinals sputter once against down the stretch. Like last season, Arizona seems to be free falling from their perch as the top dog in this division. The time is now for the Rams to strike.
Although there is virtually a 100% chance that the Rams clinch a wildcard berth soon, the Rams are nearly in the drivers seat to take the NFC West away from the Cardinals. However, keep your eyes glued to this intriguing final season push as the Rams look to overturn their fortunes and win this division.