The date was November 29th and the New Orleans Saints had just lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. The Saints loss allowed the Rams to have a chance to control their own destiny for the one seed and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Rams handled their business that week defeating the Lions 30 to 16 in a victory that was not as impressive as the score may have shown. Nonetheless, the Rams had a game lead on the Saints with only four games remaining and looked to be in prime position to secure the one seed. Then the nightmare began.
Over the past two weeks the Rams have gone 0-2 losing to both the Bears and Eagles in games where the Rams looked terrible. The offense that was once averaging over 30 points a game this season only put up 29 in the combined match-ups. Jared Goff, who was in the MVP discussion 3 weeks ago was atrocious in both games with 6 combined turnovers and many missed throws. Aaron Donald, who has been terrorizing QBs all season was held to only 4 tackles, 2 QB hits, and zero sacks in both games. Josh Reynolds, who is the “Cooper Kupp replacement” struggled in the role as he has had 8 catches on 19 targets for a subpar 42% catch rate. It feels like nothing has been going right for any of the Rams as of late.
Meanwhile, the Saints went 2-0 these past few weeks with wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers. Even though the Saints have not looked as dominant as they once did, they still won both games and improved their record to 12-2. With the Saints having the tie breaker over the Rams because of their head to head victory in week 9, it would take a near miracle for the Rams to retake the 1 seed.
Since the Saints are 12-2 with the tiebreaker and the Rams are 11-3, the Rams would need the Saints to lose both their games to end the season while the Rams win both of theirs.
The Rams face off against the Arizona Cardinals (3-11) and the San Francisco 49ers (4-10) so the path for the Rams to win both games is not too difficult. Both opposing teams have been struggling mightily all year long and these could be two great chances to get the Rams back on track. However, with the way the Rams have been playing as of late they cannot afford to take either team lightly. A loss to either team could be devastating to the Rams and could even knock them out of the two seed in the NFC.
The Saints end their season with both games at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1) and the Carolina Panthers (6-8). Unfortunately for the Rams, the Saints are 5-1 at home with one of the best home field advantages in the NFL and it would be very surprising if they lose both games. It also doesn’t help that there’s a good chance in week 17 the Panthers won’t have anything to play for. They could rest many of their star players including QB Cam Newton, who appears to be battling through an injury these past few weeks. His benching would only bolster the already high probability the Saints have of winning both games.
So, mathematically speaking there is a path for the Rams to get the one seed but the chance of that happening is very slim. It’s time for the Rams to forget about the one seed and focus on these next two weeks. It looks like the NFC will have to go through New Orleans, and if the Rams want any chance of getting there they will need to turn things around very quickly.
Featured Image: Jae C Hong/AP Photo