LA Rams MNF win creates 2nd path to succeed in NFL Playoffs

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

By winning the MNF game, the LA Rams have created a second path to succeed in their quest for success in the NFL Playoffs.

The LA Rams are in a much better position to make the NFL playoffs after defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a hard-fought game on Monday Night Football. By winning the game, the LA Rams catapulted from third-place in the NFC West and sixth-seed in the NFC Playoff standings to first place in the NFC West and second-seed in the NFC Playoff picture. Conversely, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now at 7-4, have dropped to the sixth-seed in the NFC.

The victory gives the Rams a leg up on eventual tie-breakers that could come into play to determine NFC seeding. The Rams have defeated both the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two teams that are in a good position to earn a playoff berth.  So what do the Rams face?

Win and be in

The LA Rams stand at 7-3 right now. The remaining six games on the LA Rams schedule includes four games with NFC West rivals, and two games at home against AFC East New York Jets and New England Patriots.  Of course, the win-and-be-in rule plays a huge part now. If by some incredible longshot the Rams win their remaining six games, they will end the season at 13-3.

The only team that can do better than that in the NFC is the New Orleans Saints. But the Saints are forced to play without quarterback Drew Brees, who has 11 fractured ribs. The Saints, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have a fair schedule, but must still face the Kansas City Chiefs.  That’s a tough game to predict a win.

The other 7-3 team right now is the Green Bay Packers. Like the Rams, they have a more challenging schedule remaining. They face the Chicago Bears twice, plus a game against the Tenessee Titans. They should be favored in their remaining three games.

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Wild wildcard race

If the Rams fail to secure the top seed of the NFC Playoffs, they will have at least one home game and very likely two at SoFi stadium.  That is huge because the Rams are undefeated at home this season so far.  As long as they can play within the friendly confines of SoFi Stadium, they will have a solid chance of advancing.

But, if the Rams fail to win the NFC West division, how bad will it get for them? That will depend on where the Rams end up. With six games to go, the LA Rams could end up 10-6 and still secure a playoff spot. That’s winning games against the New York Jets, the New England Patriots, and just one of four remaining division games. In that scenario, the Rams will likely end up as the seventh seed. Either the Seattle Seahawks or Arizona Cardinals will win the division, and the other will win a higher seed.

NFC West still very tough

But if the Rams end up 11-5 or better, things get interesting. The Rams can win the NFC West with a 3-3 division record, as long as neither the Seahawks nor the Cardinals do better. That means that the Rams must win both games from the Cardinals, and hope the San Francisco 49ers can play spoiler and defeat the Seahawks in the last game of the season.

If the Rams win five of their last six games, they will end the season at 12-4 and should win the NFC West. That means that the Rams can only lose one game, preferably to a team that will not compete for a playoff spot. The Rams, therefore, have three more must-win games. Two against the Arizona Cardinals, and the rematch against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle.

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The Rams deserve to be in the discussions for the NFL Playoffs. But thanks to the NFC West competitiveness, that is not a sure thing.