Had the Los Angeles Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers on the final Sunday of the regular season, they would be the NFC’s No. 2 seed, setting up a home playoff game against the quarterback-less New Orleans Saints. They also could guarantee avoiding the red-hot Green Bay Packers until the NFC Championship Game.
Instead, Matthew Stafford and the Rams were unable to hold a 17-0 second-quarter lead, ultimately losing to the 49ers 27-24 in overtime. This dropped them to the No. 4 seed, pitting them against NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, with the potential to travel to Green Bay as early as the divisional round.
Stafford is not too concerned about this path to the Super Bowl, even if a win against the 49ers would have set up an easier one.
“Yeah, I think the biggest thing is we’re a resilient bunch,” Stafford said of the Rams. “We have been all year, whether we’re playing at home, playing on the road, things are going our way, things aren’t going our way, we continue to battle.
“That’s what it takes to win games in the playoffs, there’s no question. You’ve got to play good football, but you’ve got to be resilient too. Right now, it’s testing us. We lost the football game that we had chances to win and would have felt great winning that game and winning the division the way we wanted to win the division, but we’re a resilient group and we’ll be ready to go.”
Stafford also knows that — as the quarterback — team successes and failures fall largely on him, which is why he was happy to help secure the division title.
“It’s important for our team, no question. The better I play, the better chance we have. That’s NFL football. When the quarterback plays well you’ve got a good chance. I know that. Looking forward to the opportunity to go and play in the postseason, taking it one game at a time.”
Stafford and the Rams have absolutely had their ups and downs this season. They started 7-1, then went on a brutal three-game losing streak, only to follow that up with an impressive five-game winning streak, and then ending the regular season on a sour note with the loss to the 49ers.
To get to the Super Bowl, it won’t be an easy path by any means. Stafford will need to clean up some of the ugly turnovers that have defined him this season and Sean McVay will need to get back to establishing the run with Cam Akers and Sony Michel.
The Rams are absolutely Super Bowl contenders, but to prove that in the playoffs, they’ll need to rely on the resilience that Stafford believes they have.
Jordan Fuller out for season
The Rams suffered a huge loss in their secondary during the regular-season finale. Safety Jordan Fuller sustained an ankle injury that may require surgery and will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. In an effort to replace him, the Rams brought in retired safety Eric Weddle.
Weddle has not played in the NFL since he was with the Rams in 2019. His agent announced the signing on Wednesday morning, with their Wild Card matchup against the Cardinals taking place on Monday night.