THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – In the next four weeks alone, the Rams have three division games, plus a primetime contest against an NFC contender in primetime.
As much as Los Angeles preaches a one-week-at-a-time approach, the significance of starting off the second half of the 2020 season on the right foot, especially with the position it's in coming out of the bye week, is clear.
"I think winning these games. It's about showing up, winning these games," Rams head coach Sean McVay said during a video conference Monday, when asked what they need to do during this potentially defining period of the season to prove they are a playoff team. "It's simple, but it really is the approach we're taking. Let's find a way to have all hands-on deck, do whatever we can to play our best game yet and go attack an opportunity to get our sixth win."
With Seattle losing to Buffalo, Arizona to Miami and San Francisco to Green Bay in Week 9, L.A. (5-3) is one game behind Seattle (6-2) in the NFC West standings entering Week 10.
A Rams win over the Seahawks on Sunday, coupled with a Cardinals loss to the Bills, would move the Rams into first place in the division by virtue of having the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks. However, if both the Rams and the Cardinals win, the Cardinals will be in first place since they will have the best division win-loss record of any NFC West team (2-0). If the Seahawks win, they remain in first place.
"Well, I certainly wasn't upset to see those teams not come away with wins," McVay said, when asked about those Week 9 results. "I'll say this, if we handle our business, you don't have to get into the business of watching other teams. ... You don't have to ride the ebbs and flows of relying on other outcomes to occur."
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who also watched those Week 9 games and their outcomes, shared a similar mindset.
"Yeah, they did us some favors there," Kupp said. "It's on us now to make sure we take care of our end of things."
After the Seahawks on Sunday, the Rams travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football in Week 11. The Rams then host the 49ers on a short week in Week 12 before traveling to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in Week 13. Currently, the combined record of those four upcoming opponents is 21-13.
The Rams host the 3-5 Patriots on Thursday Night Football in Week 14, then host the 0-9 Jets in Week 15 before closing out the season with their second divisional games against the Seahawks (Week 16) and Cardinals (Week 17).
Of course, for McVay and L.A. players, ensuring those future games carry any significance begins with earning a Week 10 victory.
"It definitely starts this week," defensive lineman Aaron Donald said. "We are worried about this week right now. We know what we have to do. We're prepared. We're ready. We're fresh."
"We're very excited about what's ahead of us, but we're most excited about just being here, this time, this week, and being able to prepare for this team," Kupp said. "And to be able to come out of this bye week against a division opponent that's currently first in the division is an incredible opportunity for us. So guys are chomping at the bit ready to get back in here and get after it."