NFC Playoff Update & Rams Week 17 Prediction
NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
December 21, 2019; Santa Clara, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to get to the playoffs on an 8-7 record going into Week 17 when five teams in the National Football Conference have double-digit wins.

Even if the Rams win on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals and move to 9-7, it still won’t be enough to make a playoff entrance. The Vikings have clinched the No. 6 seed wild card spot and the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are still duking it out for who will win the NFC West. Either way, they have both clinched at least the No. 5 spot and one of them will get at least the No. 3 seed.

The Rams are one of nine teams that are already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs:

  1. LA Rams
  2. Chicago Bears
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Atlanta Falcons
  5. Arizona Cardinals
  6. Carolina Panthers
  7. New York Giants
  8. Detroit Lions
  9. Washington Redskins

At the top of the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles are still locked in a battle for the NFC East. If the Eagles loss to the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins this Sunday, America’s Team can clinch the division. If the Cowboys lose or tie, the Eagles win the division. Also, no matter what happens with the Cowboys, all the Eagles need is to tie the Giants to win the worst division in the NFL this 2019 season.

The Seahawks will face off against the 49ers again and try to get their second win over their tough division rivals. They already beat the Niners once this season and now they get to face the Gold and Red in Seattle. Regardless of home-field advantage, the Seahawks are +3.5 underdogs at top betting outlets such as Bovada Sportsbook.

If they win, they take the NFC West back from the current leaders, the San Francisco 49ers. If they win and the Green Bay Packers take a loss to the Detroit Lions, the Seahawks clinch their first-round bye. If the Saints lose as well, they snatch-up home-field advantage on top of it all.

Over in the North, the Vikings have nowhere to go except to Chicago to play the Bears. Win or lose, they are locked into the No. 6 seed. So, we might see the Vikings rest up their key players for the Wild Card game. The Packers have clinched the North but a win coupled with a 49ers loss get them a bye. If the New Orleans Saints lose on top of that, they would also get home-field.

The Saints have won the NFC South but are also still looking to clinch their first-round bye. If they win and either the Niners or Packers lose or ties, they get the bye. If they tie and either team loses. Or if the Niners win and the Packers lose or tie against the Lions. They also get home-field if they win and both teams lose or tie.

Rams Want to Finish Strong

The Rams don’t really have anything to play for, but in finishing in the middle of the pack, they don’t have a reason to try and lose either; it’s just not going to affect their draft in the grand scheme of things. However, finishing strong for fans and top brass is valuable. On top of that, moral and creating something to build from next season.

Oddsmakers have lined the Rams out as full touchdown favorites at home. If you like to throw down a few bucks on weekly NFL action, the Rams should be considered here. Kyler Murray is banged up. Maybe more important is the history between these two teams. The Rams have smashed the Cardinals in the recent past, winning five straight games. Just four NFL weeks ago, Los Angeles put a 34 to 7 beat down on the Arizona Cardinals.

When we look at the raw statistics we have two teams with similar offensive productivity. The Rams average 24.2 per game and the Cardinals 22.5. But on the road, Arizona remains roughly the same 22.7, while the Rams fall to 21.3 at home. The defense is the main difference here. The Cardinals allow 27.4 overall against the LAR  22.7 per game. But again, the Cardinals improve to 25.3 allowed and the Rams stay roughly the same at 22.6 allowed at home. So that 5-point defensive differential is cut down to about three points.

Still, the matchup heavily favors LA in this one and they are at home for the last game of the season. I expect the Rams will get the job done and give their fans a decisive home win.