To Tank Or Not To Tank: Rams Playoff Chances Drop Significantly With Loss To The Packers

To some, the Los Angeles Rams playoff chances in 2023 were slim to none from the first snap in Week 1. But the Rams proved to be a plucky group of overachievers. Not only that but the NFC’s Wild Card window has been held wide open with a freshly baked cherry pie sitting on its ledge for whoever wants to take it. Before their current three-game losing streak the Rams playoff chances were just about 40 percent. Now they head into the Bye Week with a 13.8 percent chance to make the playoffs, per Sumer Sports.

Rams Playoff Chances With 1 More Win

As the old saying goes, you are what your record says you are. But with the Rams playoff chances, it’s a bit more nuanced because of how they have lost a few games. Three of the Rams six losses came in one-score games. Also, with the Rams roster, it was a given that they would lose to more talented teams, like the Eagles and Cowboys. But those one-score games, and arguably this Packers game, were winnable games. Even if they had taken just one more of these four one-score games their playoff chances would sit above 30 percent.

Self-inflicted wounds cost them the 49ers game. An inability to convert 3rd downs torpedoed them against the Bengals. Red zone issues handed them a loss against the Steelers.

A win in two of those games puts the Rams legitimately in position for the 7th playoff spot. The outcomes of those games were decided by one or two drives and in some cases, one or two plays.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Rams Playoff Chances: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rams Remaining Schedule

There are both winnable games and very difficult games left on the Rams schedule. Five of the remaining opponents on the Rams schedule are currently playoff teams. The Rams should beat the Giants, Washington, and Cardinals. They have a chance against the Saints and their two remaining divisional games, the Seahawks and 49ers. The Ravens and Browns will be the most challenging games remaining.

Getting into the playoffs would mean winning 5 or 6 of these games. All this is a long way of illustrating what a 13.8 percent chance of making the playoffs looks like and just how important it was for the Rams to win those early winnable games.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Rams Playoff Chances: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Catch-22 of the Tank

The Rams have distinctly NOT been tanking this year. But at this point, should they consider it?

The high draft pick argument is more real for the Rams than it ever has been. They currently have the 6th, 38th, 70th, and 106th picks, plus six more in the remaining three rounds of the 2024 draft. This is by far the most impressive haul of picks the Rams will have in the Sean McVay era. Ensuring they get the best players they can mean they will have a bright future.

On the other hand, McVay doesn’t like losing, and the young players that currently make up this team are learning the Rams culture, which is a proven winning culture. Putting those players in that situation could prove to be more harmful to their morale and longer-term development.

Tanking the rest of the season would entail shutting down veterans like Matthew Stafford, or Cooper Kupp, or Aaron Donald. All of them are over 30, which in the NFL means they are living on borrowed time. Which presents a Catch-22. Another year gone is another year closer to retirement. But if you keep them in the game, you risk injury in games that don’t matter.