Why The Los Angeles Rams Have The Most Critical Week 17 Game Among Playoff Contenders

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams occupy the No. 6 seed in the NFC and look like they are in great shape to secure a playoff berth over the final two games of the regular season.

Or so it seems.

While the Rams have improved their playoff chances dramatically in recent weeks, they are hardly a sure thing. In fact, going into their road game against the New York Giants, the Rams might have the biggest must-win game of any team heading into Week 17.

According to the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams (8-7) currently have a 67-percent chance of making the NFC playoffs. If they beat the Giants, the Rams’ playoff chances rise to 88 percent. But if they lose to the Giants, their chances plummet to 25 percent.

That 63-percent difference between winning and losing is the largest among any contending team in Week 17.

Related: NFL Power Rankings: Evaluating all 32 teams after 16 games

Los Angeles Rams Need To Keep Rolling Vs. Giants

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As winners of five of their past six games, the Los Angeles Rams are as dangerous as any team in the NFL, looking more and more like the team no one wants to play in the NFC. And getting credit for the Rams’ turnaround, Sean McVay has become a top NFL Coach of the Year candidate.

Matthew Stafford is playing his best football of the season. Over the past five weeks, he’s thrown 14 TD passes and only one interception.

Rookie receiver Puka Nacua and running back Kyren Williams have produced breakout seasons for an offense that is scoring more than 32 points per game over the past five weeks.

Nacua, a fifth-round draft pick, is on the verge of setting NFL rookie records for receptions and receiving yards. Williams, despite missing four games, is the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,057 yards, and he averages 96.1 yards per game to lead all NFL running backs.

Yet the Rams’ 3-6 start could come back to bite them in the end, if they are unable to make the playoffs. After they play the Giants, the Los Angeles Rams go on the road to play the San Francisco 49ers, who won their last nine regular-season meetings and could be playing for the NFC’s No. 1 seed in Week 18.

That means the Los Angeles Rams need to beat the Giants on Sunday — or their late-season push would all be for naught.