LA Rams plunge into white water race for wild card spot

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

The LA Rams loss drops the team out of the NFC West top spot, and into the white water rapids race for a wild card spot of the NFL Playoffs

The LA Rams really could not afford a loss right now. But that’s what they did, for the second time this season, to the San Francisco 49ers. Division losses cut the deepest when a team is fighting for a playoff berth. A team’s division record is one of the first tiebreakers, and it carries over into conference tiebreakers as well. The Arizona Cardinals lost as well, or the Rams would be in third place in the NFC West.

Yes, the Rams can sweep their remaining division games and mathematically end up winning the NFC West with a 12-4 record. But from how the Rams performed against the 49ers, that seems unlikely. Instead, the Rams are now 7-4 and will need to work hard to avoid finishing the season at 9-7.  What is most likely is a 3-2 finish to this season. Let’s discuss why that is likely.

The only sure-thing is no sure thing

Is it safe to consider the two home games against the 0-11 New York Jets and 5-6 New England Patriots as wins? I’m no longer as confident against the Patriots as I had been.  That leaves two games against the Arizona Cardinals and one game at Seattle to face the Seahawks as the games that will make or break the Rams playoff hopes.

Of the three remaining division games, the Rams should be capable of winning one. And the Rams have a chance to restart their home game winning streak, as I still believe that the Rams should win both remaining home games against the AFC East teams.  Where will 10-6 land the team?

No help on the quest to postseason

Don’t look for help from the San Francisco 49ers. Their two division wins have both come against the LA Rams.  Despite their momentum, the 49ers rested a number of plays to activate. Now, they face the Buffalo Bills, Washington, and Dallas before ending their season against the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks face the New York Giants and Jets, Washington, and finish off the season against the Rams and the 49ers.  The Cardinals face the Rams twice, the Eagles, the Giants, and the 49ers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a realistic shot at winning out, as they face the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons twice, and Detroit Lions.

Wake up or exposed?

The Rams have a slim chance to recover and win the NFC West. They have a better chance of landing a wild card spot in the NFL Playoffs. What they do in the next five games is up to the Rams. Scrap the rhetoric. Turn down the noise from others. This is the do-or-do-not moment for the Rams.

Will the Rams wake up for a couple of games after the most recent embarrassing loss to the 49ers. Or were the Rams exposed as a team that has exploitable vulnerabilities on offense? We’ll find out soon. The Rams don’t get a break as they must now travel to face the Arizona Cardinals. Win that one, and the Rams create a two-team race with the Seahawks. Lose, and the Rams suddenly fall further down the playoff ladder. It’s a lot of rapidly moving water right now.  Strap in.

Next. The 49ers never stopped LA Rams RB Cam Akers. dark

This is going to be a wild ride to the finish line.