Rams may not need to win out, but they probably should

Time to find out if the Rams are contenders or pretenders.

The winning record of 7-5 means they've got a healthy shot. But if this was the College Football Playoff, their resume wouldn't warrant inclusion in the postseason.

The teams they've beaten have a combined winning percentage of .406. Their Week Two triumph over the Saints is the only victory against an opponent currently slated to be in the playoffs.

By contrast, the teams they face in the next three weeks are 26-11, combined.

So You're Telling Me There's a Chance

Using the very useful New York Times interactive site, and without plugging in any other outcomes (not even the Vikings potential results), here are the Rams' odds of reaching the playoffs if they...

 Win out: 98%

 Finish 3-1 with the loss versus…

SEA: 52%

DAL: 60%

SF: 55%

ARI: 57%

I'm guessing those figures are higher than you expected?

So if anyone tells you this week is a must-win, feel free to set them straight. However, it's also fine to pretend they're correct for the next 48 hours.

Lucky… And Good

Here are the NFL's 10-2 teams going into Week 14 (with scoring differential):

Baltimore (+187)

New England (+177)

San Francisco (+166)

New Orleans (+50)

Seattle (+36)

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have claimed to possess a "clutch gene." But that +36 figure is the lowest point differential by a team to win 10 of its first 12 games in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Two of their wins have come in overtime and only one victory all season was accompanied by a two-score margin.

Nonetheless, the Seahawks have won five consecutive games – the second-longest active streak behind the Ravens – and are the only NFL team without a road loss (perfect 6-0).

Night Vision

Since Pete Carroll took over in Seattle, the Seahawks have the best prime time winning percentage in the NFL at .843 (29-5-1).

Of course, his quarterback is the most significant contributor to that statistic. And Wilson, arriving two years after Carroll, is 26-5-1 in night games. According to Elias, that's the best record for any signal caller since the 1970 merger.

Stuff The Streak

As brilliant as Wilson has been – and he played a perfect game the last time the Rams saw him – this really is a running game test for the Rams, and a chance to make amends for the debacle against Baltimore.

Seattle has rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 consecutive contests.

L.A. is third in the NFL in yards per carry allowed, and would lead the NFC if not for the 285 yards rushing the Ravens put on them.

So it's strength against strength, at least on early downs.

The Los Angeles Rams practice in Thousand Oaks, CA. ahead of the team's SNF matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

Kicking Comments

Seldom does Sean McVay publicly address a player-specific issue so head on.

But after Greg Zuerlein missed from 41 yards in Arizona, he had this to say Monday night:

"We've got to be able to make our field goals. We have to be more consistent. We have confidence in Greg; he's been consistent. But we've got to be able to hit those more consistently."

By "those", he means attempts in the low-40s. Strangely, Zuerlein has missed four-of-five attempts this season between 40 and 44 yards (h/t Rich Hammond). He's 21-of-23 from every other distance and immaculate on his extra point tries.

But the message is particularly poignant this week, given that one of those misses cost the Rams a win against the Seahawks in Week 5.

And the expectation can also be applied to punter Johnny Hekker, who like Zuerlein, must recapture his All-Pro form in this final stretch. Every boot and every yard of field position matter when the margin for error is this slim.

Likewise for Darrell Henderson and Nsimba Webster, who will be relied upon to be letter-perfect replacing return specialist JoJo Natson, placed on injured reserve this week.

Revisiting The Red Zone

In the previous quotation, McVay was wrapping up a larger thought about finishing drives, which after a promising start to 2019, has become a deficiency of this year's team.

The Rams have the seventh-most trips inside the 20-yard line, but have only punched in 55% of them (ranking 18th in the NFL).

By contrast, the Seahawks are third in opportunities and seventh in touchdown percentage.

So yes, Zuerlein needs to make his field goals. But the offense needs to ensure he's kicking extra points, instead.

Cooper's Comeback

Following a season-ending knee injury against Seattle in Week 10 of 2018, Cooper Kupp will continue his bid for NFL Comeback Player of the Year on Sunday night against those same Seahawks.

He is 55 receiving yards away from his first professional season of 1,000. His next touchdown will also establish a career-best.

However, since erupting for 220 yards receiving in London against the Bengals, defenses have done well to limit his impact. Kupp has just 153 in his last four games, combined. That's his lowest total during a four-game span in his career. 

End Game

In the Week 5 matchup with the Seahawks, the Rams tight ends went off. And in particular, Gerald Everett hauled in a career-best 136 yards on seven receptions.

But the Rams will be without their third-year mismatch again this week as he recovers from a knee injury suffered against the Ravens.

On Tuesday, L.A. added practice squad member Kendall Blanton, a rookie from Missouri, to their active roster.

The Rams won't get any sympathy from the Seahawks, who have already lost Will Dissly to injured reserve and will go without Luke Willson in Week 14, as well.

Without those tight ends last week against Minnesota, they used tackle George Fant as an eligible extra lineman on 42 snaps.

Fowler Focused On Finishing

We had a really enlightening conversation with outside linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. this week.

Coming off a sack and a couple pass break-ups in Arizona, he's enjoying a career-best season in a contract year. However, one of the points he made was that the only part of 2020 he's interested in is helping the Rams back to the playoffs.

Check out Rams Revealed below – or wherever you get your podcasts – before kickoff Sunday night.

Rematch Features Ramsey

One of the biggest differences in the Seahawks-Rams rematch will be Jalen Ramsey's role in the defense.

The Rams will be starting two new corners since the Seahawks saw them last, with Ramsey and Troy Hill taking over for the since-traded Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.

The question becomes, how will defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and position coach Aubrey Pleasant deploy Ramsey?

Tyler Lockett is the Seahawks most targeted receiver, and he leads them in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. However, Lockett has just one catch in the past two games after suffering a shin bruise and battling the flu. Plus, he's 5-foot-10.

Might the big, physical Ramsey be a better matchup for contending with 6-foot-4 rookie D.K. Metcalf?

Either way, Ramsey figures to be a more stout force in the running game than his predecessors, both of whom struggled with tackling Seahawks on the perimeter in Week 5.

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