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One final week of the regular season and one final look at what matters to the Rams
The NFL has finally arrived at the final week of the regular season and much of the playoff field is set but there are some pivotal games and fun win-and-in scenarios to monitor. As for the Rams, it’s another week of assessing what each matchup means for the Rams potential draft slot in April. There’s an undeniable ominous haze above the league this week following the Bills/Bengals cancellation and the tragedy that caused it. Here’s to hoping Damar Hamlin makes a speedy and full recovery.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Las Vegas Raiders (1:30 PST Saturday)
The Chiefs are looking to secure a first round bye and a win over the Raiders shouldn’t be too tall of an order. Jarrett Stidham played surprisingly well last week and will look to build on his performance with hopes of starting for the Raiders next season. There aren’t any notable former Rams in this one.
Root for: The Raiders to score an upset and remain behind the Rams in the draft order
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (5:15 PST Saturday)
The Titans have fallen off a cliff and face the Jaguars who have ascended into the upper echelon of the league behind the stellar play of young QB Trevor Lawrence. With Ryan Tannehill on IR, the Titans will look to Malik Willis or Josh Dobbs behind center. Former Rams to watch: CB Darious Williams of the Jaguars and WR Robert Woods of the Titans.
Root for: The Jaguars because Trevor Lawrence is fun to watch and the Titans are a boring football team across the board
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (10:00 PST)
Tom Brady and Mike Evans finally rejuvenated their connection last week and head to Atlanta to cement their playoff berth by beating a hapless team behind a confused young QB in Desmond Ridder. Former Rams to watch: WR KhaDarel Hodge of the Falcons.
Root for: The Falcons to remain behind the Rams in the draft order
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (10:00 PST)
From what I’ve seen, the Vikings are undeserving of their record and have lucked out in a variety of close games. They got blasted by the rival Packers last week and face a reeling Bears team in Chicago. It’s a cupcake matchup but I could see the Bears stealing one here. Former Rams to watch: TE Johnny Mundt of the Vikings.
Root for: The Bears to score an upset on an overrated football team
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (10:00 PST)
The Ravens without Lamar Jackson are borderline unwatchable and resemble the 2022 Broncos in the passing game. They travel to Cincinnati to face a team with a much more potent attack coming off the emotional strain of the week prior. Former Rams to watch: CB Marcus Peters of the Ravens.
Root for: The Ravens to play better than I think they will and turn this into a game
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts (10:00 PST)
This matchup could be the single worst of the entire season with two teams playing absolutely horrible football. The Texans have a talent deficiency across the entire roster while the Colts have the worst QB situation in the league. Former Rams to watch: S Rodney McLeod of the Colts and WR Brandin Cooks, EDGE Obo Okoronkwo of the Texans.
Root for: The Colts for draft positioning
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins (10:00 PST)
The Jets have been mathematically eliminated with shoddy QB play and head to Miami to face a Dolphins team that is fighting for a playoff spot and needs a win here. It’s unlikely Tua Tagavailoa is back and Teddy Bridewater has an injured finger. It could be rookie Skylar Thompson here in a massive game. Former Rams to watch: DE John Franklin-Myers and S Lamarcus Joyner of the Jets.
Root for: The Dolphins because the playoffs aren’t as fun without Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (10:00 PST)
The Panthers were eliminated last week by losing to the rival Buccaneers and will be playing for pride in New Orleans against a Saints team that is also not going to the dance. Not much to play for here and most likely not much to see. Former Rams to watch: G Austin Corbett of the Panthers.
Root for: The Panthers to remain behind the Rams in the draft order come April
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (10:00 PST)
Deshaun Watson has shaken off more rust with each passing week and has looked sharper each game. His Browns look to play spoiler against the Steelers who have a narrow chance of making the playoffs. Former Rams to watch: S John Johnson of the Browns.
Root for: The Browns because the Steelers don’t profile as an interesting playoff team
Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos (1:25 PST)
The Chargers look to keep their hot streak going into the playoffs and the Broncos are a prime candidate to allow that to happen. I’ve said it many times this year but the Broncos are a miserable watch, have fired their coach already, and have an albatross of a contract with Russell Wilson that they’d love to get out of one season in. Yikes. Former Rams to watch: RB Sony Michel, DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, and TE Gerald Everett of the Chargers.
Root for: The Charges to put the Broncos out of their misery
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles (1:25 PST)
This game is more enticing than initially assumed. Jalen Hurts is likely out another week and without him, the Eagles have struggled. The Giants are playing their best football and have returned many key starters on defense. If the Eagles lose, they could also lose a first round bye. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Robert Quinn of the Eagles.
Root for: The Giants to clip the Eagles wings in an upset
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (1:25 PST)
The 49ers are playing for seeding and will be fighting for this win against a divisional rival who has been in a state of utter disarray since losing Kyler Murray. I’d expect the 49ers to cruise here but I’ll be pulling for Arizona. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Samson Ebukam of the 49ers.
Root for: The Cardinals to upset the more hated Rams rival
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Commanders (1:25 PST)
The Cowboys are playing for seeding and face a divisional rival that always plays them tough. Carson Wentz has been shown the bench once again. Can Taylor Heinicke knock the Cowboys back in their playoff conquest? Former Rams to watch: EDGE Dante Fowler Jr of the Cowboys.
Root for: The Commanders to play spoiler to America’s most hated team
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (SNF)
This is the matchup of the week so far as it’s essentially a win-and-in game for both teams (the Lions will need the Rams help too). If the Rams beat the Seahawks and the Lions win, they’re in. Once again, these two teams are linked. It’s total toss up and a divisional game to boot. This game is must watch television. Former Rams to watch: EDGE Justin Hollins of the Packers and QB Jared Goff, WR Josh Reynolds, DT Michael Brockers of the Lions.
Root for: The Lions to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011 with help from the Rams beating the Seahawks