2021 LA Rams playoff picture forming via the ESPN Playoff machine
If all things happen according to this script, the LA Rams will enter Week 18 with a lock on the NFC West Division title, win or lose. But the team has the bona fide chance to win and lock up the BYE for the NFC Playoffs. Thankfully , another division rivalry, that of the Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles, will also help to determine whether the Cowboys earn a shot at resting in Week 1 of the NFL Playoffs.
LA Rams host San Francisco 49ers: Even if the LA Rams get to this point, you can bet that head coach Sean McVay will not put any of his starters onto the field. This will be a game of backups for the Rams. That may not be a bad thing, as the team will certainly need to knock the rust off players who hav sat virtually five months on the bench.
Don’t look for any reciprocity from the 49ers. They will start everyone, and will end their no-playoff season in another attempt to salvage their disappointing underachieving season by extending their winning streak over the Rams. The Rams have some talent on the bench, but not when the entire offense and defense that takes the field are the reserves. They have not played together whatsoever.
Predicted score: San Francisco 49ers 28 LA Rams 7
Other games with NFL Playoff implications
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: If there is any team that would be emotionally prepared to knock off the Cowboys juggernaut this late in the season, it will most certainly be the Eagles. And in the ironies of ironies, an Eagles win catapults them into the seventh seed of the NFC Wild Card Round, and a trip to face the second-seeded Dallas Cowboys the very next week. That type of drama is just too attractive to pass up here
Predicted score: Philadelphia Eagles 31 Dallas Cowboys 27
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: The Week 18 matchup of the Seahawks at the Cardinals will be a handing off of the NFC West baton of sorts. The Cardinals, win or lose, are the fifth-seed in the NFC Playoffs, and the Seahawks are closing out their season. This game will be stuffed with dramatic narratives about the likely retirement of head coach Pete Carroll, the potential promotion of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, and the future of quarterback Russell Wilson.
Like the Rams, the Cardinals have no reason to play their starters, so they won’t. But they will still be a rather competitive team even with backups. I can envision a comeback victory by some Russell Wilson heroics to seal this game’s outcome, and become a highlight reel for the end of the 2021 NFL Season.
Predicted score: Seattle Seahawks 27 Arizona Cardinals 21