Goff Or Wolford? How Rams Can Win NFC With Both

Five Rams Players To Watch For Week 1
SoFi Stadium And The Oculus. Photo Credit: Kirk Morrison | ESPN LA And Rams Analyst

The Los Angeles Rams have the potential to play any of the teams remaining in the NFC depending on how this weekend goes. Also, the Rams can legitimately beat any of these teams and advance to the Super Bowl if they play to their potential. This is an explanation of how each team can be beaten by the Rams. The teams are listed in the order of how much the Rams would prefer to play each opponent. 

Lastly, it should be noted that the gameplan against Seattle is largely applicable for both backup John Wolford and injured quarterback Jared Goff. In other words, the Seattle gameplan will work for either Goff or Wolford. However, the Rams will need Goff to play after this weekend in order to have any real chance to make the Super Bowl. Thus, every gameplan other than the one against Seattle will assume that Goff will be the starting quarterback for that tussle.

Goff Or Wolford? How Rams Can Win NFC With Both

1) Goff or Wolford: Seattle Seahawks (Third Seed)

Normally, the Seahawks would not be the team that the Rams would most want to play. However, since they have to play Seattle, they should now want to play the Seahawks. If not, they’re in trouble. For those that see it as nearly impossible for the Rams to win with backup quarterback Wolford, remember that the Rams once defeated the Seahawks during the height of the Legion of Boom with quarterback Austin Davis. If the Rams were able to pull that off in those circumstances, they can beat this comparatively weaker team now with Wolford if it comes to that.

Basically, the win will come if the Rams are smart, run the ball, play defense well and draw up trick plays to get an early lead. Sean McVay is undefeated as a head coach when leading at halftime. If the Rams get a lead at halftime, the defense will take them to the win. Above all, the less the quarterback throws, the better.

2) Washington Football Team (Fourth Seed)

Looking at playoff opponents, it doesn’t get much easier than this, regardless of if Goff or Wolford starts. The Rams should be begging to play a team under .500 that only made the playoffs because of a team tanking in Week 17.

With this matchup, it should be pretty easy to simply let the massively superior roster dominate. The Rams would only need to run the ball, smother Alex Smith, force takeaways, and then leave with a simple win.

If the Rams cough up the football early, come out flat, and force this game to last longer than it should, then they will be in trouble. That being said, the Washington Football Team would need to beat Tom Brady and the Buccaneers first in order to get any chance of playing the Rams. Have fun with that.

3) Chicago Bears (Seventh Seed)

This Chicago Bears team would not be in the playoffs if not for the addition of the seventh seed this year. If the Rams were to get this opponent, they would be licking their chops with Goff or Wolford under center.

This is the only potential game with the Rams having a home-field advantage. Thus, they would not have to travel and they would be guaranteed to play somewhere warm. However, this could also be a trap game if approached the wrong way. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Head Coach Matt Nagy have playoff experience which is a huge factor in January. Also, the offense of the Bears was on fire to finish the season. In five of their last six games, they put up at least 25 points. If the Rams give up 25 or more points in this game, they could be in trouble with a diminished Jared Goff. 

Put simply, the defense has to be dominant against the Bears, holding them to under 20 points, which is definitely possible. The Green Bay Packers held the Bears to 16 points in Week 17 in a game that was played as a win-and-in scenario for the team in the windy city. 

The Bears will have to sneak out of their game against the Saints in order to have any chance of seeing the Rams in a later round.

4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Fifth Seed)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the hottest teams in the league entering the playoffs as they won their last four games of the regular season and put up 91 points combined over their last two games. Unlike the last two opponents on this list, the Rams will likely see this team if they are going to the Super Bowl. 

Tom Brady is the best playoff quarterback of all time and Head Coach Bruce Arians has playoff experience as well. On the other hand, the rest of the roster does not have much playoff experience and Arians has not been in a playoff game since he lost to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 49-15 on January 24, 2016.

This could be setting up a situation where the pressure of the playoffs gets to the players and coaches and causes Brady to not get much help. If this happens, the result could be a case in which the Buccaneers could put up a bad performance where the quarterback plays well like a vintage game with Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers when he played for Mike McCarthy.

That being said, the Rams cannot only count on the Bucs having a bad day. They’ll need to keep Brady’s offense off of the field and will need to make long, lumbering drives that end in touchdowns and then get a few stops on defense in order to pull out a win, regardless of if it is Goff or Wolford starting. In other words, the Rams’ greater amount of playoff experience puts them in a good position to win this game.

“This game would be about one thing: revenge.”

5) Green Bay Packers (One Seed)

The Green Bay Packers have been hot all year long as they have put up 30 or more points in 11 games en route to a 13-3 season. Put simply, if the Rams get in a shootout with the Packers, they’ll lose whether the Rams have Goff or Wolford starting.

Similar to their gameplan against the Buccaneers, they’ll need to run the ball well, play defense better, and keep Rodgers off of the field. Basically, the Rams need to copy what the San Francisco 49ers did against Green Bay last year. In that game, the 49ers almost only ran the ball and the Packers ended up losing 37-8. The Rams have a defense and a running game that would have the potential to do the same thing. If history can repeat itself, the Rams could advance with little drama in this game.

6) New Orleans Saints (Second Seed)

The Rams do not want to face the Saints in the playoffs again. The Rams are not as good this season as in 2018 and this would be a personal game for the Saints. Forget about the stakes of the playoffs, the last chance for a Super Bowl with Drew Brees, and eternal glory. This game would be about one thing: revenge.

The Saints want to show that they’re better than a Rams team that got a no-call Pass Interference with the hit by cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman and then went into a Super Bowl where they put up three points. Basically, the Saints would be out for blood against a team that is weaker than they were in their last playoff game in 2018.

In order to win the game, the Rams will need to force a bad game from Brees and keep their offense off the field by running the ball early and often. If McVay tries to get cute with a ton of passes, the Saints’ fourth-ranked defense will eat. 

Goff Or Wolford? Run The Ball

Most of these games have a simple gameplan: run the ball. With a hurt Jared Goff and a backup quarterback with only one start in the mix for the starting gig, the quarterback position (whether it is Goff or Wolford) cannot be a big part of this playoff run. If it is, there’ll a stumble at the starting line and the run will be over before it begins.