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Rams to rest Matthew Stafford for Week 18: Could have NFC playoff ripple effect

The Los Angeles Rams are resting QB Matthew Stafford for Week 18, which could have a huge impact on NFC playoff seeding and the Detroit Lions.

NFL: Washington Commanders at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Per NFL Network, the Los Angeles Rams have decided to rest Matthew Stafford in favor of Carson Wentz for the team’s Week 18 game, and it could have a huge impact on the NFC playoff picture and the Detroit Lions.

The Lions are almost assuredly locked into the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs, as they would need to not only beat the Minnesota Vikings in Week 18 but both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles to lose in order to move into the No. 2 seed.

As a result, the list of Lions' potential first-round opponents in the playoffs is a short one: likely the Rams or Green Bay Packers.

Currently, the Los Angeles Rams (9-7) have locked up a playoff spot and sit at the No. 6 seed in the NFC, which puts them at the front of the line. Next in line is the Packers (8-8), followed by the Seattle Seahawks (8-8), New Orleans Saints (8-8), and Vikings (7-9).

But the Rams' road to stay at the No. 6 seed is not easy, as they face the NFC’s No. 1 ranked San Francisco 49ers in Week 18. If the Rams beat the 49ers, they stay at the No. 6 seed and would face the Lions in the first round if Detroit clinches the three seed.

But if Los Angeles loses, they could drop to the seven seed if the Packers beat the Chicago Bears—which could set up a matchup between the Lions and Packers in the first round.

With no chance of dropping out of the No. 1 seed, the 49ers could bench starters, too. They have already declared running back Christian McCaffrey out (with a calf strain). But coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t decided if quarterback Brock Purdy will start.

“I don’t have that plan yet. We’re still discussing all those things,” Shanahan said.

UPDATE: 49ers will start QB Sam Darnold

With Stafford no longer under center in the regular season finale, it changes the potential outcome of this game significantly.

UPDATE 2: Rams are also resting DT Aaron Donald, WR Cooper Kupp, and RB Kyren Williams

Here are some potential outcomes based on what happens in the Rams-49ers game:

  • Rams win = they’re the No. 6 seed
  • Rams lose, Packers win = Packers No. 6 seed, Rams No. 7 seed
  • Rams lose, Packers lose = Rams No. 6 seed, No. 7 TBD (Packers, Seahawks, Saints)

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