The Los Angeles Rams have (almost) done it. With the Week 16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, and an Arizona Cardinals loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week, the Rams are now back in first place in the NFC West.
The collapse of the Cardinals over recent weeks, and the recent surge of the Rams has placed Los Angeles in prime position to not only clinch the division, but also still fight for a first-round playoff bye, as a playoff position has now already been secured.
There has clearly been a major shakeup in the NFC playoff standings, after a very eventful last few weeks. Take a look below to see how the Rams and the rest of the NFC playoff picture has taken hold.
NFC Playoff Picture
1. Green Bay Packers: 12-3
2. Dallas Cowboys: 11-4
3. Los Angeles Rams: 11-4
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11-4
5. Arizona Cardinals: 10-5
6. San Francisco 49ers: 8-7
7. Philadelphia Eagles: 8-7
After spending the last several weeks as the five seed in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams have taken over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. This puts the Rams as a top-four seed in the NFC and hosting a playoff game. As it stands, the Rams would get a matchup they likely wouldn’t want.
In Week 18, the Rams host the San Francisco 49ers. If the standings were to remain as is, they would host the 49ers again wild card weekend. The Rams haven’t defeated the 49ers since 2018 which adds another layer to this potential matchup.
The Rams can win the NFC West on Sunday. They would need to beat the Baltimore Ravens and then hope for a Dallas Cowboys win against the Arizona Cardinals. What makes this complicated is that with a win against the Ravens and a Cowboys loss, the Rams can overtake the number two seed.
Week 17 Matchup
Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens
This matchup will be an interesting one. The Ravens are a difficult team that is on the bubble of a playoff spot. Despite a down year, they came a two-point conversion away from beating the Green Bay Packers. With the number of injuries they’ve faced, it’s uncertain who will even play quarterback.
Star quarterback Lamar Jackson has been missing in action for weeks due to injury. Although the Ravens have a capable backup in Tyler Huntley, he is not as dynamic as Jackson and would be a much easier task for the Rams defense.
This game could be an easier one for the Rams if Jackson is out or likely hobbled by his recent injury woes. Either way this is a much needed victory for the Rams. They are not only trying to run away with the NFC West crown, but also catching the top seed in the NFC in the Packers.
Week 17 Matchups to Watch
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets
The Buccaneers have the same exact record as the Rams. However, a loss to Los Angeles earlier in the season has the Rams ahead of the Bucs in the playoff picture currently. The Bucs should have an easier task against one of the least formidable teams in the league in the Jets this weekend. The Jets have won just four games, but three of those wins have been at hom.
Expect the Buccaneers to run away with this one as they fight for a higher playoff seed.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team
The Eagles are a team on the rise, and new to the playoff picture. With three straight victories, it seems the kettle has gotten hot at the perfect time. They travel to Washington this week and with a win will increase their playoff odds to almost 99% if the Vikings lose to Green Bay.
Washington has been on the opposite side of the spectrum, and this culminated in the most lopsided loss in the NFL this season. They fell to Dallas 56-14 in Week 16.
A team that was once rising to great heights in Washington seems to have traded places with the Eagles. The Eagles have already beaten Washington this season. They’ll look to complete the sweep against a team that may have played itself out of the playoff race.
Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers
As things currently stand, the Rams would face off against the 49ers. That’s not good news for a franchise that has not beat San Francisco since 2018.
There could be some upset potential here as the 49ers will be without Jimmy Garoppolo. Additionally, the Texans are coming off of two straight victories, including a win against the Los Angeles Chargers. Davis Mills has been playing very well as of late and has been at his best in the red zone.
The play of rookie quarterback Davis Mills might signal the changing of the guard for a franchise in a weird state of quarterback turmoil. A Texans victory may be hard to come by here, but it would be welcomed for the Rams as it could knock the 49ers out of the playoffs.
Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys
This is a tricky one. With an Arizona loss, and a Rams victory, the Rams would clinch the NFC West this week. However, if the Cowboys lose and the Rams win, Los Angeles would become the second seed in the NFC.
The Cardinals are reeling after three straight losses, and have lost their mojo from earlier in the season. Kyler Murray has been struggling and Kliff Klingsbury shows that he continues to make critical errors in big moments.
The Cowboys are looking to fight for the top seed in the NFC as well. After such a dominating performance this past week, it seems the Cowboys have found their stride. They’ll be trying to catch Green Bay for the top-seed in the NFC.
Keep an eye on this matchup. It can prove to be vital to the Los Angeles Rams in an assortment of ways.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
The Minnesota Vikings fell victim to the Rams this past week. The Vikings have shown that they can compete with the best in the league this season, but have constantly fallen short. The Vikings are on the outside looking on on the playoff picture. A win this week is crucial for them making the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Kirk Cousins has been placed on COVID/Reserved and Sean Mannion will likely get the start. With Mannion starting, it obviously puts a huge dent in the Vikings coming out of Lambeau Field with a win.
Green Bay owns the best record in football, and will look to continue their winning ways as they have won four straight. Keep an eye on this one as although the Packers hold the tie breaker over the Rams.