We went 1-1 in Saturday’s version of our Week 16 Rooting Guide, and, unfortunately, the one we lost was the more important one. With the Arizona Cardinals’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Los Angeles Rams are now in first place of the NFC West and have jumped all the way to the three seed in the conference, setting up Matthew Stafford for something he’s never had: a home playoff game.
Of course, the Rams still need to finish their business in their final three games of the season, and we’re here to stop them with the (useless) power of ROOTING.
So let’s look at the rest of Week 16’s slate and see what we can do to make the Rams plummet in seeding, and hopefully set them up for a difficult first-round matchup in the postseason and a potential early exit that would boost Detroit’s first-round pick from them.
Let’s start, though, with the Lions’ own first-round pick, which—for the first time in a couple months—is not currently the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
After last week’s improbable win over the Cardinals, suddenly it doesn’t seem ridiculous to say Detroit could win two of their final three games. The Lions have played just two games against teams with under .500 records thus far, but they have two left on the schedule.
Therefore, we’re going to take into account every team that has four wins or fewer, just in case the Lions finish on a roll.
Jaguars (2-12) vs. Jets (3-11) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
Root for: Jaguars
The Jaguars took over the No. 1 pick spot after losing to the Texans last week. If the Lions want to recapture it, this is probably their only chance left, as Jacksonville has to play the Patriots and Colts to close out the year.
That being said, a Jets win isn’t all that bad, either. Getting New York to two wins basically guarantees the Lions a top-three pick, as long as Detroit doesn’t win two more games.
Giants (4-10) vs. Eagles (7-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Root for: Giants
The Giants, along with every other four-win team, have a two-game lead over the Lions. So if any of them wins one more, the only way Detroit drops below them in draft order is if they win out. That seems unlikely.
Chargers (8-6) vs. Texans (3-11) — 1 p.m. ET — CBS
Root for: Texans
Seems unlikely, but a Texans win would go a long way in ensuring Detroit keeps a top-two pick.
Bears (4-10) vs. Seahawks (5-9) — 4:05 p.m. ET — FOX
Root for: Bears
If the Bears can get to five wins, we can sit back, relax, and watch Bears fans nervously worry that the team will keep Matt Nagy around.
Here’s what the top of the draft would look like if these results happen + a Lions loss.
- Lions: 2-12-1
- Jaguars: 3-12
- Jets: 3-12
- Texans: 4-11
- Seahawks: 5-10
- Bears: 5-10
- Giants: 5-10
Rams (10-4) vs. Vikings (7-7) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Root for: Vikings
Duh. A Vikings win only hurts in that it gives a Wild Card contender a win, but we’re done pretending the Rams will fall out of the playoffs. They’ve got a 98.8 percent chance of the postseason. So our main objective here is to make sure they don’t win the division and earn a home playoff game. With the Cardinals’ loss on Saturday, the Rams have to lose at least one more game. It could be this week. It could be next week in Baltimore against the Ravens. Heck, that Week 18 game against the 49ers could be a huge one.
Buccaneers (10-4) vs. Panthers (5-9) — 1 p.m. ET — FOX
Root for: Buccaneers
If the Rams do manage to hold onto that division lead, let’s at least keep them to the lowest seed possible. So we’ve got to get these other division leaders some wins to keep the Rams as low on the standings as possible.
Football Team (6-8) vs. Cowboys (10-4) — 8:20 p.m. ET — NBC
Root for: Cowboys
Same as above. Division winners need to keep winning to keep the Rams’ seeding down.
If all these results play out perfectly, here’s what the NFC Playoff picture would look like:
- Packers: 12-3
- Buccaneers: 11-4
- Cowboys: 11-4
- Cardinals: 10-5
- Rams: 10-5
- 49ers: 8-7
- Vikings: 8-7
If these standings hold the next two weeks, the Rams would travel to Arizona for a rematch with the Cardinals. Those two teams have played each other twice already this year, and strangely enough, the road team has won both contests.