LA Rams can be top seed or miss NFL Playoffs
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams’ chances at the top seed have diminished, and have opened the door to missing the NFL Playoffs altogether this year
The LA Rams have fallen to a record of 9-5. While they are certainly guaranteed that they will do no worse than their 9-7 record of 2020, they have opened the door to the same result of last year. You see, the Rams have not clinched a playoff berth just yet, and can miss out altogether. Of course, there is a very small chance of that happening, because the sequence of games is very specific and intricate.
The Rams hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears. So any two-way tie with the Bears will result in the Rams earning a playoff berth. But the rules for a three-way tie involve a different set of tiebreaking rules, found on the NFL.com website.
In the case of a three-way tie, the hierarchy of tiebreakers are as follows:
1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs). (not applicable)
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division. (Cards win 4-2 in the division, Bears 3-3 in their division, Rams 2-4 in their division)
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
In the case of the Bears-Cards-Rams tie, the Rams division record would kick them to the curb.
LA Rams: Must lose both games at Seattle Seahawks and host Arizona Cardinals
Chicago Bears: Must win both games at Jacksonville Jaguars and host Green Bay Packers
Tamp Bay Buccaneers: Must win one game at Detroit Lions or host Atlanta Falcons
Arizona Cardinals: Must lose game host San Francisco 49ers and must win the game at LA Rams
So it’s simple, right? Well, you can test the scenario described above on ESPN’s Playoff machine and you will come up with the same answers we did.
NFC West Champs
Okay, I’ve just exposed you to the LA Rams worst-case scenario. What about a best-case scenario? How high can the humbled Rams land as a playoff team now? Would you believe that the LA Rams can still win the top-seed in the NFC Playoffs? It’s remotely possible. The first case to any route to a home field in the playoffs is:
LA Rams: Must win both games at Seattle Seahawks and host Arizona Cardinals
(leads to NFC West Champ)
New Orleans Saints: Must lose one game host Minnesota Vikings or at Carolina Panthers
Green Bay Packers: Must lose both games host Tennessee Titans and at Chicago Bears.
If the Rams win two, the Packers lose two, and the Saints lose one, the LA Rams will win the tie-breakers and will be the top-seed in the NFC. That seems pretty wild with just two games in play, but that is how the NFL designed the schedule. Of course, if the Saints win both games, or the Packers win one, the Rams will not earn a first-round bye.
Even if the Rams lose one of the remaining two games, they will lock in a playoff berth. But with each loss comes a steeper road to the NFL Championship Game. With so much on the line in the final two weeks, NFL fans are compelled to remain invested in each week to learn whether their team will be playing in the postseason. The Rams are still in the running.