The NFC playoff picture entering Week 16, and what’s at stake for the Rams

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By Stu Jackson, therams.com

The Rams are still in the playoff picture by way of the top wild card spot (No. 5 seed) despite Sunday’s loss to the Jets. However, a big road game against the Seahawks this weekend looms with division and playoff implications.

Here is a look at the NFC playoff picture heading into Week 16:

1. Green Bay Packers (11-3): A 24-16 win over the Panthers and the Chiefs’ 32-29 victory over the Saints fortified the Packers’ hold of the top seed in the conference.

2. New Orleans Saints (10-4): The return of starting quarterback Drew Brees wasn’t enough for New Orleans to overcome the absence of star wide receiver Michael Thomas in a narrow 32-29 loss to top AFC seed Kansas City. Thomas was placed on injured reserve on Saturday due to a lingering ankle injury but is expected to be close to full strength by the start of the playoffs, according to multiple reports.

3. Seattle Seahawks (10-4): Although it led by 17 early in the third quarter, Seattle had to survive a fourth-quarter rally by Washington to come away with a 20-15 victory at FedExField. The win clinched a playoff berth for the Seahawks and, along with the Rams’ loss to the Jets, also moved them into first place in the NFC West and the NFC’s No. 3 seed.

4. Washington Football Team (6-8): Despite Sunday’s loss to Seattle, Washington still held on to first place in the NFC East thanks to the Cleveland Browns defeating the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.

5. Los Angeles Rams (9-5): Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Jets knocked the Rams down to second place in the NFC West and prevented them from clinching a playoff spot. Up next for Los Angeles: A road game at Seattle with another shot at securing that playoff berth, with both teams also vying for the division title.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5): The Bucs defeated the Falcons 31-27 via a 17-point comeback to earn their second-straight win and remain in contention for a wild card spot. While Tampa Bay’s record is identical to Los Angeles, L.A. owns the top wild card spot due to head-to-head tiebreaker (Week 11).

7. Arizona Cardinals (8-6): The Cardinals also won their second consecutive game and maintained control of their wild card slot thanks to a 33-26 win over the Eagles.

In the hunt: Chicago Bears (7-7); Minnesota Vikings (6-8); New York Giants (5-9); Dallas Cowboys (5-9); Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1).

What’s on the line for the Rams in Week 16: A win over the Seahawks would clinch a playoff spot and move the Rams back into first place in the division via division record tiebreaker (Los Angeles would be 3-2, Seattle 2-3). The Rams can also clinch a playoff spot with a Cardinals win or tie over the 49ers or a Bears loss or tie to the Jaguars.

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