The past month has been quite the roller coaster ride for the Rams.  After struggling in the 3 games right after the bye, the Rams rebounded nicely with dominating wins over the Cardinals and 49ers to end the season.

As a result, the Rams secured the 2 seed in the NFC and more importantly a bye in the first round of the playoffs.  The possible three opponents for the Rams will be the Bears, Seahawks, or Cowboys.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears finished the regular season with a record of 12-4 and are the 3 seed in the NFC.  They will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round of the NFC playoffs.  Regardless of whatever else happens, if the Bears win against the Eagles they will be the Rams opponent in the divisional round.  The Rams faced the Bears earlier this year in Chicago and lost 15 to 6.  The loss was the first time ever the Rams were held to zero touchdowns since Sean McVay became the head coach.

The Bears are built around a ridiculously good defense that is ranked 1st in the NFL in points allowed per game, 1st in rush defense, 7th in pass defense, 3rd in total defense, and 1st in takeaways.  Their defense consists of 4 pro bowlers, Akeim Hicks (DT), Kyle Fuller (CB), Eddie Jackson (S), and Khalil Mack (OLB/DE).  On offense the Bears are led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky who is the leader in a run heavy and dink and dump pass offense.  The Bears have a lot of speed on offense and will look to get the ball in open space to Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and Allen Robinson.

The Chicago Bears are a very tough opponent to play and if the Rams do face them they will need to fix a lot of the mistakes that went wrong in the previous match-up.  Jared Goff will need to play a lot better and have far less than the 4 turnovers he had earlier this season.  The Rams will also need to pressure Trubisky and force him to throw downfield as well as limit the Bears rushing attack that ran for 194 yards in the first match-up.  If the Rams can do that then they will have a much better chance of winning this time around.

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East with a record of 10-6 and will host the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round.  In order for the Rams to play Dallas they will not only need Dallas to win but also need Philadelphia to defeat Chicago.

The Cowboys offense is somewhat similar to the Rams where they have a young quarterback, Dak Prescott, and a superstar running back, Ezekiel Elliott.  Elliott is coming off a monster year where he had 1434 rushing yards, 567 receiving yards, and 9 total touchdowns.  He is the workhorse back for the Cowboys offense and will be heavily relied upon in the playoffs.  Besides Elliott, the Dallas offense also has Amari Cooper who has been a great addition to the team.  Acquired in a mid-season trade with the Oakland Raiders, Cooper had 53 receptions, 725 yards, and 6 touchdowns in 9 games with the Cowboys.  He is capable of making a huge gain on any play and has brought an added element to the Cowboys offense.  The good news for the Rams is when they faced Cooper as a Raider earlier this year, he was limited to only one catch for nine yards.

Similar to the Bears, the Cowboys are very good on defense and rank in the top ten in the NFL in points allowed per game, yards allowed per game, and rushing yards allowed per game.  The backbone of the defense is the outstanding play of all three linebackers, Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Leighton Vander Esch.  All three are great at stopping the run, can play exceptional pass coverage, and very rarely miss an open field tackle.  These players will make it very tough for Todd Gurley to get to the second level of the defense and will prevent huge gains from him.  The best way for the Rams to attack the Dallas defense is to try and find WRs, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods over the top of the Dallas secondary.  Dallas loves to control the flow of the game and grind you out on defense so a big play or two for the Rams offense is crucial to winning.

Seattle Seahawks

The final possible opponent for the Rams in the divisional round is none other than the rival Seattle Seahawks.  The Rams are very familiar with the Seahawks as they faced twice already this year with the Rams winning both games.  However, neither game was an easy win as the Rams only won by 2 and 5 points.  In order for a third match-up to happen, the Seahawks will have to defeat the Cowboys and the Eagles will need to upset the Bears.

Much like every year, Seattle is carried by QB Russell Wilson who can do anything asked of him.  Wilson had another MVP caliber year this season with 3448 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 110.9.  Against the Rams this season, Wilson was brilliant as he threw for 374 yards, 6 touchdowns, and zero interceptions in the combined games.  In addition to Wilson, Seattle has also found a very solid running back in Chris Carson.  Carson took off at the end of this season and was named the NFC offensive player of the month as he had over 500 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns.  Due to an early season injury, Carson only faced the Rams once this year but was still very effective in that game with 116 rushing yards.

Defeating a team three times in one season is not easy by any means and when it’s your division rival it is that much harder.  The Seahawks are probably the team the Rams want to face least in the divisional round as they have already almost beaten the Rams twice.  The key for a Rams victory is to the stop the Seattle rushing attack and keep Wilson contained in the pocket.  Much like the first two match-ups, the Rams will need to score a lot of points against Seattle and make sure Todd Gurley is heavily involved.  Gurley has feasted against the Seattle defense this season with a combined 197 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns in both games and will need to be as effective if the Rams want to go for the season sweep.

All in all, it’s hard to pinpoint one exact team that the Rams should hope to face in the divisional round.  Each of these three teams pose a threat in their own way and will not be an easy out.  They all made the playoffs for a reason and any of these teams could win on any given day.  So this weekend it’s time for the Rams to sit back, relax, enjoy the bye, but most importantly get a good look at the 3 possible opponents they will face next week.

Featured Image: Anthony Riccobono/ International Business Times
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