Packers bump Rams from Playoffs as NFC resiliency tightens playoff races in NFL

Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

When the schedule for Week 13 arrived, the LA Rams were one of five games scheduled that pitted an NFC team against an AFC Team. And by rights, looking at the scheduled games, the AFC teams were far more successful and formidable on paper leading into Week 13.

Of course, the LA Rams were just one NFC team that stood under .500 but faced an AFC team firmly above .500, as the Rams drew the Cleveland Browns in their game.

  1. Cleveland Browns (7-4) vs. LA Rams (5-6) - Rams 36 Browns 19
  2. Atlanta Falcons (5-6) vs. New York Jets (4-7) - Falcons 13 Jets 8
  3. Arizona Cardinals (2-10) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) - Cardinals 24 Steelers 10
  4. Miami Dolphins (8-3) vs. Washington Commanders (4-8) Dolphins 45 Commanders 15
  5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (5-6) Packers 27 Chiefs 19

Since the LA Rams are in a heated battle in the NFC for a playoff berth, the plan seemed relatively simple. The Rams needed to win in Week 13, and then the Rams needed the Jets, Steelers, Dolphins, and Chiefs to win to ensure that the Rams landed a playoff berth at the conclusion of Week 13 competitive.

NFC race tightens up

The Rams certainly did their part as the Rams defeated the visiting Browns by a score of 36-19. But that was not the only game in Week 13 in which the NFC teams would sample a taste of victory over AFC opponents. In fact, with the exception of the Miami Dolphins, all NFC teams would get the win in Week 13.

The LA Rams were temporarily heading for the playoffs, as the Rams 6-6 record was good enough to earn the seventh-seed of the NFC Playoffs for only three hours. Because the Rams, sans Matthew Stafford, lost to the Packers in Week 9, the Packers own the tiebreaker with the LA Rams, and slide into the seventh seed ahead of the Rams with their officiating-tainted victory over the Chiefs.

The NFC now holds five teams with a record of 6-6. The Rams, due to tiebreakers, only win tiebreakers with the Seattle Seahawks due to winning both games in head to head competition.

AFC race tightens up too

On the flip side, the AFC playoff race tightened up considerably as well. Four AFC teams emerge from Week 13 with a record of 7-5. Both the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans improved to 7-5 with a victory in Week 13, while two teams fell to 7-5 with a loss in Week 13: The Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That is not where the playoff battle ends in the AFC, as the Buffalo Bills (6-6) and the Denver Broncos (6-6) are absolutely within striking distance at just one week back.

While the LA Rams are not in the playoffs just yet, there are plenty of football games to be played. If the Rams win all remaining games, however unlikely, they would finish this season with a record of 11-6 and would absolutely be in the playoffs. The consensus right now is that any NFL team hopeful of appearing in the NFL Playoffs this season would need 10 wins to do so.

If true, that leaves the Rams magic number at four with five games to go. Stay tuned. This is going to be a finish that you won't want to miss.