What does a loss in Week 18 mean for the LA Rams playoff chances?

Los Angeles Rams. Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams. Sean McVay / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

The LA Rams (9-7) have risen through the ranks of the NFC to perch as the sixth-seeded team in the NFC with just one week to go in the regular season. But, what happens to the LA Rams if they lose in Week 18 to the San Francisco 49ers? Well, as often is the case in the last week of NFL regular season play, it all depends on what happens with other teams in the season finale.

You see, the LA Rams have clinched a playoff berth. So what remains to be decided? Well, depending upon the outcome of Week 18, the Rams may enter the playoffs as either the sixth seed, or as the seventh seed. And therein lies the question.

If the LA Rams win in Week 18, then nothing changes, The Rams will end the season with a record of 10-7, and will be the sixth-seeded team in the NFL. That will pit the Rams against the third-seeded team in the NFC, which could be the Detroit Lions, the Dallas Cowboys, or the Philadelphia Eagles.

But if the LA Rams lose, that could open the door for the Green Bay Packers to reclaim the sixth seed in the NFC. If that happens, the Rams will face the second-seeded NFC team, which again could be the Detroit Lions, the Dallas Cowboys, or the Philadelphia Eagles. So what is the difference?

If the LA Rams fall to 9-8

If the LA Rams fall to 9-8 by losing to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18, they can retain their sixth seed beth in the NFC as long as the Green Bay Packers lose or tie the Chicago Bears. The Rams win tiebreakers with the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints, thanks to winning in head-to-head competition. But the LA Rams lost in Week 9 to the Packers when the Rams had to entrust backup quarterback Brett Rypien with the start.

Thanks to that unfortunate loss, the Rams will surrender their playoff berth to the Green Bay Packers if both teams end the season with the same 9-8 record. But if the Rams have a chance to face one of the same three teams in the Wild Card Round of the NFC Playoffs, what difference does it make?

Well, quite a bit, actually.

Even if the records of the Rams Wild Card Round opponents is the same, the chances of the Rams advancing in the playoffs to the Super Bowl are signficantly greater as the sixth seeded team. In short, the sixth-seeded team has a 3 percent chance of competing in the Super Bowl Unfortunately, the seventh-seeded team has less than a 1 percent chance of doing so.

As it currently stands, the LA Rams would likely face the Detroit Lions if they manage to retain the sixth seed playoff berth. That is due to the fact that the Lions are likely to end up as the third seeded team in the NFC. The Dallas Cowboys are likely to end up as the second seeded team in the NFC, and the Cowboys have been very difficult to beat at home.

Of course, if the Cowboys lose and the Philadelphia Eagles win, then they become the second seeded team in the NFC.

As long as the Rams win, nothing changes for the Rams. But if the Rams lose? Well, they could be in for a much tougher trek in the NFL Playoffs.

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