Do the Rams prefer the No. 4 seed?

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As the NFC playoff tree comes into shape, there’s a theory making the rounds that perhaps the team on track for the No. 3 seed would prefer to drop a spot.

The Rams, if they win on Sunday against the 49ers or if the Saints lose to the Buccaneers, will be the No. 3 seed. If the Rams lose and the Saints win or Panthers win, the Rams will be the No. 4 seed.

Under either scenario, the Rams will host a wild-card game before hitting the road for a divisional round game (if, of course, they win in the opening round). But who they play will hinge on where they land. And some think the Rams would prefer the path that comes from being the No. 4 seed.

If the Falcons beat the Panthers on Sunday, the Panthers will be the No. 5 seed and the Falcons will be the No. 6 seed. The thinking is that Rams coach Sean McVay prefers to face the Panthers over the Falcons in the opening playoff game. (Consider what Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips did to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50, when Phillips was running the Denver defense.)

Then, if the No. 3 seed beats the No. 6 seed, the Rams (with a win) would head to Philadelphia instead of Minnesota for the divisional round. Though both teams beat the Rams, the thinking is that the Eagles are far more vulnerable.

Earlier this week, McVay addressed the difference between being the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in explaining his then-tentative plan to rest some starters this weekend.

“I think really what we’ve discussed is when you really take into consideration that there’s four potential teams that we can play,” McVay told reporters. “All of them are very, very good football teams and however it plays out you’re going to be on the road the following week. When you look at getting guys healthy, knowing that you are going to be able to play a home playoff game and then you think about kind of the risk-reward, we feel like that’s probably going to be the best decision, is to rest some of those guys for our team. Make no mistake about it, the guys that we are going to go forward with, we’re going to do everything in our power to compete to go win a football game. But everything we do, like we’ve said, is intentional. I think that’s served us well up to this point. You don’t take anything away for what this game means to us this coming week, but when you say, knowing that you do have the opportunity to play that home playoff game the following week and is it a three [seed], is it a four [seed]? How does that really alter and affect compared to some of things that could potentially occur, that’s more than likely the approach that we’re going to take.”

In other words, McVay factored his team’s path to the Super Bowl into his decision on whether to risk falling from No. 3 to No. 4. He may indeed realize that he’s better off one spot lower. And he may actually be.

The only potential problem with that strategy, of course, comes from the possibility that the No. 3 seed and No. 4 seed are left standing at the end of the divisional round, forcing the Rams to go on the road when they could have hosted the NFC title game.

30 responses to “Do the Rams prefer the No. 4 seed?

  1. Last paragraph—-#3 NO will still be alive which means LA will have to play in NO for NFCCG. Very realistic.

  2. Lol. The Rams aren’t good enough to “pick” the path that they can take.

    IF they make it past the wild card round, they’re not winning in Minnesota. And they’re definitely not winning in Philadelphia.

  3. All valid points with the top one being he feels they match up better with Philly and wants no part of Minnesota in the divisional round. One scenario you didn’t mention that would throw a wrench in that is what if the Rams drop to #4 and win the wildcard game but then the 6th seed were to upset the 3 seed? If that occurs then dropping to #4 was all for not.

  4. Either way the party is over for the Rams. Can’t see them beating Ryan or
    Fig Newton. Too much playoff inexperience on the Rams roster.

  5. In terms of the NFC the Los Angeles Rams are the most complete team top to bottom. Vike’s are a close second but the Rams have the horses to beat anyone in either conference. That’s what my eyes tell me. Gurley is a freight train, Goff playing well and Wade Phillips will have big time scheme wrinkles in the post season

  6. I don’t think he was talking about picking his path or even thinking about that at all….. I think he simply said that he chose it would be better for him and his team in the playoffs regardless of who they face, because they are all very good teams, if their players were healthy and rested.

    If he is doing what this article suggests though, lol @ him. There is no guarantee and no matter how much easier you may think it is to play the Panthers and Eagles, it isn’t really that much easier but if that is your thought process, you are already playing scared and that means you are playing to lose. You don’t go into the playoffs thinking “Man, I want to face this team because it will be easier”. That is overlooking your opponent and a common recipe for disaster. I would love for my team to face the Rams if that is their mindset.

  7. mrbiggstuff says:
    December 29, 2017 at 11:10 am
    Lol. The Rams aren’t good enough to “pick” the path that they can take.
    IF they make it past the wild card round, they’re not winning in Minnesota. And they’re definitely not winning in Philadelphia.

    Oh yes..because Philly looked oh so invincible on Monday against those powerhouse Raiders and the Vikes were world beaters against the Brett Hundley led Packers. No possible way the Rams could win huh?

  8. Yes, the Saints did beat Philly in the snow a few years ago, but the Saints are a dome team. Other than the Vikings are probably a better team than Philly, I consider it a wash as to which team is the better match from the Saints point of view.

  9. mrbiggstuff says:
    December 29, 2017 at 11:10 am
    Lol. The Rams aren’t good enough to “pick” the path that they can take.

    IF they make it past the wild card round, they’re not winning in Minnesota. And they’re definitely not winning in Philadelphia.

    /////////////////////

    The Rams will crush the Eagles if they play, in fact any playoff team will crush the Eagles. The eagles are the packers the packers are the Eagles. Lose their QB and they are garbage.

  10. The Rams will crush the Eagles if they play, in fact any playoff team will crush the Eagles. The eagles are the packers the packers are the Eagles. Lose their QB and they are garbage.

    —————————————————————————————————-

    The Rams had all 4th quarter and some of the 3rd to beat the Eagles without Wentz and they didn’t. The Eagles are also 2-0 without Wentz. That doesn’t sound like garbage to me. I appreciate you propping up Wentz though. He is amazing. Probably would have been MVP, and definitely one of the top QBs in the league.

  11. Even if they beat the Eagles, they may still have to travel to Minnesota the next week. Therefore there is really little advantage being the number 4 seed. also, the Panthers are tougher to beat than the Falcons this season.

  12. The Rams want to drop from 3 to 4 so when the Seahawks get the 6 seed the Rams don’t have to face Seattle (with healthy linebackers) for the rubber match.

  13. dmoney253 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm
    The Rams want to drop from 3 to 4 so when the Seahawks get the 6 seed the Rams don’t have to face Seattle (with healthy linebackers) for the rubber match.

    So a healthy Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright would have been the difference maker when the Rams beat them 42-7 IN Seattle 2 weeks ago? Good grief man!

  14. cmsaint9 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 11:07 am
    Last paragraph—-#3 NO will still be alive which means LA will have to play in NO for NFCCG. Very realistic.

    ^Exactly. I think the Saints and Rams will go to MIN and PHI and win. PHI was the best team in the league this year but they wont overcome losing Wentz. MIN sealed their fate by sticking to Keenum. I’ve seen enough of him to know what a pass rush does to him. Not winning a playoff game. Whodats are SB bound, we’ll put a bounty on keenum if need be.

  15. 60 rushing yards is what the Saints mustard against the Vikings.They were 4-11 on 3rd down. Gurley had 37 yards on 15 carries.Rams had 45 yards rushing against the Vikings. And the Rams were 3-11 on 3rd down. These teams had trouble running on the Vikings and they will both have to play in Minneapolis again. I like the Vikings chances in the rematch.

  16. I have lived to see the Vikings loose 4 Super Bowl’s and 5 NFCCG’S so I am not disillusioned enough to think the Vikings are a lock to win every playoff game and also the Super Bowl. This is the best chance they have had since ’09 though. Literally anyone team in the NFC can go to and even win the Super Bowl. This is the year that if a team gets hot they can win it all. I hope it’s the Vikings. To be the first team to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium is historic. That’s part of the reason I would like them to win. The problem is as a Vikings fan and the history of the team. They always find a way to loose in the most excruciating ways imaginable. That’s why I won’t call them a lock, ever. I hope this is the year though. It would truly make history so I am wanting it to happen.

  17. Mark my words, Sean McVay won’t lose to the same team twice. So it doesn’t really matter who they face in the Divisional round. But first they have to get there.

  18. What I don’t get is the geniuses commenting on the Saints/Rams beating the Vikes at home, when in fact, in head to head competition the Vikes beat both very soundly at US Bank Stadium. Have you been hanging out with Packer fans this holiday season?

  19. theimmaculatedeception says:
    December 29, 2017 at 12:29 pm
    In terms of the NFC the Los Angeles Rams are the most complete team top to bottom. Vike’s are a close second but the Rams have the horses to beat anyone in either conference. That’s what my eyes tell me. Gurley is a freight train, Goff playing well and Wade Phillips will have big time scheme wrinkles in the post season

    **

    Vikings are a close second? Vikings Rank #1 overall in Defense (Rams 17) and #10 in offense (Rams 7). They also rank above the Rams in kickoff/punt returns and FG percentage. Not to mention the Vikings shut out the Rams for 55 minutes and 22 seconds in November.

  20. schmitty2 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm
    dmoney253 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm
    The Rams want to drop from 3 to 4 so when the Seahawks get the 6 seed the Rams don’t have to face Seattle (with healthy linebackers) for the rubber match.

    So a healthy Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright would have been the difference maker when the Rams beat them 42-7 IN Seattle 2 weeks ago? Good grief man!
    _______________________________________

    YES the difference in that game was the lack of KJ Wright and lack of a even relatively healthy bobby wagner. Or did you not see the game?

  21. dmoney253 says:

    December 29, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    schmitty2 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm
    dmoney253 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm
    The Rams want to drop from 3 to 4 so when the Seahawks get the 6 seed the Rams don’t have to face Seattle (with healthy linebackers) for the rubber match.

    So a healthy Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright would have been the difference maker when the Rams beat them 42-7 IN Seattle 2 weeks ago? Good grief man!
    _______________________________________

    YES the difference in that game was the lack of KJ Wright and lack of a even relatively healthy bobby wagner. Or did you not see the game?

    Yes, I was actually AT the game. So for the sake of argument let’s say they were both healthy. Do you think they would have helped keep the Rams BELOW 7 points which was what the amazing Seattle offense scored? It’s ok to be a homer for your but try being a realistic one.

  22. vikesfansteve says:
    December 29, 2017 at 3:25 pm
    I have lived to see the Vikings loose 4 Super Bowl’s and 5 NFCCG’S so I am not disillusioned enough to think the Vikings are a lock to win every playoff game and also the Super Bowl. This is the best chance they have had since ’09 though. Literally anyone team in the NFC can go to and even win the Super Bowl. This is the year that if a team gets hot they can win it all. I hope it’s the Vikings. To be the first team to win a Super Bowl in their own stadium is historic. That’s part of the reason I would like them to win. The problem is as a Vikings fan and the history of the team. They always find a way to loose in the most excruciating ways imaginable. That’s why I won’t call them a lock, ever. I hope this is the year though. It would truly make history so I am wanting it to happen.

    ////////////////////////////

    Right with you brother. I watched the KC Minnesota SB on a 9” sears BW TV.

  23. schmitty2 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm
    dmoney253 says:

    December 29, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    schmitty2 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 3:06 pm
    dmoney253 says:
    December 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm
    The Rams want to drop from 3 to 4 so when the Seahawks get the 6 seed the Rams don’t have to face Seattle (with healthy linebackers) for the rubber match.

    So a healthy Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright would have been the difference maker when the Rams beat them 42-7 IN Seattle 2 weeks ago? Good grief man!
    _______________________________________

    YES the difference in that game was the lack of KJ Wright and lack of a even relatively healthy bobby wagner. Or did you not see the game?

    Yes, I was actually AT the game. So for the sake of argument let’s say they were both healthy. Do you think they would have helped keep the Rams BELOW 7 points which was what the amazing Seattle offense scored? It’s ok to be a homer for your but try being a realistic one.

    ____________________________

    Hey! I was also at the game, and i watched it again at home later. The fact the offense only scored 7 points could have something to do with them never having the ball because the D couldnt get off the field. I’m no expert, but its hard to score when not on the field. And yes i am a homer, but yes i am realistic. Somehow we won the first time we played them in their house.

  24. In the Rams game against Tennessee Goff threw 3 straight passes behind receivers. Does he actually need an extra week off to allow rust to set in? Just sayin’

  25. This is why the playoffs need to be expanded to seven teams in each conference – since in that case, the 2 seed would no longer get a bye (the 1 seed still would), and if the 2 seed lost their wild card game and the 3 seed won theirs, the 3 seed would get home field in the divisional playoffs. And if Seattle was the 7 seed, why couldn’t Russell Wilson beat Case Keenum? No team in the Rams’ situation would ever even consider tanking a game to get a 4 seed instead of a 3.

  26. This choosing a path thing is entirely a media creation. McVay wants his team to be as close to full strength as a team can be at this time of year. That’s his motivation. It’s laughable to think an NFL coach would be thinking that far ahead or think any playoff road game would be so much easier that he’d tank to go there. Come on man!

  27. anthonyfromstatenisland says:
    December 30, 2017 at 9:39 am

    This is why the playoffs need to be expanded to seven teams in each conference – since in that case, the 2 seed would no longer get a bye
    ———————————————————
    They play 16 games right now to eliminate 10 of the 16 teams in each conference. You think 7 of the 16 should make the playoffs? Why not just let everyone into the playoffs and start the whole season over? Sounds like a great idea.

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