Five days. That is the amount of time that has elapsed since the LA Rams (7-7) defeated the Washington Commanders in Week 15 to improve to a .500 record. Now, the Rams must face the New Orleans Saints (7-7) in Week 16 on Thursday Night Football. And this game has playoff implications that extend far beyond the two competitors.
The Rams had suffered some injuries in their past two games, and there was fear that those injuries might have a severe and negative impact on the Rams roster for Week 16. Thankfully, the Rams expect most of those injured players to be back on the field to face the Saints. While not quite a playoff game, the atmosphere and the outcome of this regular season contest check all of the boxes of one. For those reasons, the Rams need all hands on deck.
It's as close to playing for all the marbles as you can get in Week 16.
Let Rams HC Sean McVay lead the way
If you have your backs against the wall, you have to trust your leadership to have a winning game plan. While that is a leap of faith for players of many NFL teams, it's the track record of LA Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. Here's NFL Insider and LA Rams aficionado Peter Schrager from the NFL Network and Fox Sports to break it down for you:
The LA Rams need this game to remain in the hunt for a berth in the NFL Playoffs. And the higher the Rams climb in the NFC rankings, the farther the fall if this team stumbles and falls. With the risks increasing with each win in each week, the Rams have to trust their coach to lead them to victory.
While the Rams were 3-6 after nine games, they appear to have turned the corner. This is a team that has overcome the challenge of facing some of the best defenses in the NFL, and has scored 30+ points against them. The Saints introduce another stalwart defensive challenge, but you have to wonder if they have faced an offense like the Rams this season.
Rams HC Sean McVay has exceeded everyone's expectations this season. A team that had moved on from All-Pro LB Bobby Wagner, All-Pro DB Jalen Ramsey, veteran OLB Leonard Floyd, RB Cam Akers, WR Van Jefferson, and WR Allen Robinson, is in the middle of playoff discussions.
The LA Rams are quite dangerous right now, and doubly so with HC Sean McVay at the helm on a short week. Hopefully, the Rams will continue the trend of winning in short weeks. Without researching their past games, I doubt that any TNF game has had more importance to the Rams playoff aspirations than Week 16 versus the New Orleans Saints in 2023.