Hope. It is said to both kill the soul and bring it life. It can set you up for failure, or give you the boost in confidence you need to achieve the impossible. At a time where Baby Yoda is the most recognizable figure in our cultural lexicon, the central idea of Star Wars, hope, can be felt in Los Angeles. This week, the Los Angeles Rams playoff push begins in earnest. While the season hasn’t gone exactly to plan, there is still hope, Rams can play themselves into the postseason.
Los Angeles Rams Playoff Push Begins With This Week Against Division Rival Seattle Seahawks
While the remaining schedule for the Rams is tough, it does put them in control of their destiny, for the most part. Three of their last four games, including this Sunday, are against divisional opponents. First, the Rams will host the division-leading Seattle Seahawks in the penultimate game at the LA Coliseum. A loss wouldn’t officially end their season, but if they are to continue the push for the postseason, this is must-win.
What’s At Stake
Put simply, the playoffs. The Seahawks can clinch their spot with a win over the Rams, while LA can move closer to a Wild Card spot with a win of their own. In addition to a win, if the Detroit Lions can beat the Minnesota Vikings, the Rams will be in firm control of their destiny. A loss for Los Angeles puts them two games back, needing both to win two of their last three, as well as Minnesota losing two of their final three.
The last time these two teams met, Seattle escaped with a one-point victory, with a final of 30-29. Russell Wilson finished the game with four touchdowns, 268 yards on 17/23 passing, while Jared Goff had one touchdown, one interception, and 395 yards going 29/49. While it may sound obvious, and is far easier said than done, the key for the Rams will be slowing down Wilson.
When speaking to reporters, defensive end, Dante Fowler Jr, said as much. “We got to do a better job of just getting him down when we can, and not let him extend those big plays, because when he gets out of the pocket he’s so dangerous.” The Rams defense was only able to bring down Wilson once, for a single sack. “I had him like four times and I didn’t get him down,” recalled Fowler. Russell Wilson is at his most comfortable, and most dangerous when he has time to make plays from outside the pocket. Not just getting sacks, but providing a constant barrage of pressure, will be pivotal in helping extend their season past December.
More Than Just Pride
While many fans and experts alike have written off the Rams weeks ago, and yes, it is likely they are bounced out of the playoffs early even if they do sneak in. However, in a season that has gone wrong in so many ways, getting into the playoffs matters. Players want to know they are a part of a team that is still a contender, not a team that is at the beginning of a downfall.
Taking all factors into account, this just hasn’t been the Rams season. From the early struggles from Goff to the constant questions surrounding Todd Gurley, and finally, dealing with the mountain of injuries sustained throughout the season. Unless you’re the Patriots, the chances of a return trip to the Super Bowl is always slim. Historically, teams that fail to win a Super Bowl, hardly do well the following year, yet, the Rams sit on the verge of another playoff appearance.
For head coach Sean McVay, finishing strong goes a long way in showing that he still does have the attention of this team and that he is still the right man for the job. Granted, despite any narrative, McVay was always safe after this season, but the seat significantly cools if he can salvage a postseason berth this year.
In the world of sports, coaches and players often dull us with their monotone cliches and commonplace catchphrases. However, there are few times where the seemingly cliche, is actually a rallying cry of sorts. All season long, the players and coaches in Los Angeles have maintained that they were focused, and closed-off from the negative. That they had each others’ back, and they believed in one another to get the job done. That belief has not wavered and has begun to pay dividends. First-time starters along the offensive line have played well, and even after an ugly start, the team has everything to play for with four games left in the regular season. Regardless of the final result, the way they play in these final four games will say a lot about the direction of the team under McVay.
At mid-season, I was probably one of very few still convinced the Rams had a shot at the postseason. With games against Seattle, Dallas, and San Francisco left, the road is rugged, to say the least. It will take everything LA has and then some just to get a Wild Card spot, but I think they have what it takes. If ever there was a time to unleash Todd Gurley, it’s now. Of the remaining games, only the Seahawks are in the top 10 for rush defense. Unscrew the kitchen sink, and hand it to Gurley, because the time to break glass in case of emergency, has arrived. Rams win a close one this weekend, 28-24.