Los Angeles Rams Face Biggest Must-Win Game Of Week 16 Based On NFL Playoff Implications

Credit: Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have the biggest must-win game on the NFL Week 16 schedule when they host the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night — and it’s not even close.

According to the NFL’s playoff probabilities for Week 16, the difference between a victory and a defeat toward the Rams’ playoff chances is 58 points, by far more than any other team.

Related: Los Angeles Rams rooting guide: Who to cheer for this weekend for Rams’ playoff hopes

The Rams (7-7), who would be the NFC’s No. 7 seed if the season ended today, currently have a 52-percent chance of making the playoffs. A win over the Saints would increase their chances to 73 percent, while a loss would be devastating, dropping their playoff chances to 15 percent.

The game is just as critical for the Saints (7-7), who sit at No. 9 in the NFC playoff picture and have the second-largest leverage swing of the week. The Saints, who have a 41-percent chance of advancing, would see that number rise to 70 percent with a victory and fall to 24 percent with a loss — a 46-point swing.

Fortunately for the Rams, they are rolling at the right time, as winners of four of their past five games. Sean McVay might enter the conversation for NFL Coach of the Year if the Rams continue their transformation from a team that started the season 3-6.

Los Angeles Rams Offense Has Been On Fire

Los Angeles Rams
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past four games, the Rams’ offense has been among the best in the league, averaging 33 points per game, with quarterback Matthew Stafford leading the way.

Running back Kyren Williams has been a difference-maker for the Rams, emerging as one of the league’s top breakout performers of 2023, in addition to rookie receiver Puka Nacua.

Williams is the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher with 953 yards, he’s third in all-purpose yards per game (117.4), and he leads the league in rushing yards per game (95.3), three yards better than the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey.

Related: Los Angeles Rams are scary good with Kyren Williams as their secret weapon

Nacua, a fifth-round pick out of BYU, has already placed his name among the top receivers in the league, with 87 receptions for 1,163 yards and four touchdowns. He broke the Rams’ rookie record for receiving yards and earned a shoutout from LeBron James.

Los Angeles Rams Have Edge At Home

Although the Saints enter the game on a two-game winning streak, holding their last two opponents to six points apiece, they’ve also lost three straight on the road.

The Rams, meanwhile, have won three straight at SoFi Stadium, and need to make it four in a row if they have any designs on making the playoffs, especially since they finish the regular season with road games against the New York Giants and the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers, against whom they lost nine straight regular-season games.