Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 03: Cam Akers #23 of the Los Angeles Rams carries the ball during an 18-7 Rams win over the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NFC playoff picture, Week 16: Rams have huge chance

Looking at the NFC playoff picture, the Los Angeles Rams have a chance to shoot up the standings after a great Christmas for them.

With Week 16 already three games into the slate, let’s glance the NFC playoff picture entering the weekend:

1. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
2. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
3. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4)
5. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
6. San Francisco 49ers (8-7)
7. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)
9. New Orleans Saints (7-7)

For starers, the Rams have an opportunity to seize first place in the NFC West by themselves for the first time all year. Los Angeles is taking on the Vikings, who welcome the Rams in while star running back Dalvin Cook is unavailable to them after being placed on the COVID-19 Reserve List. Without Cook, it largely falls on Kirk Cousins to beat what is one of the better defenses in the league.

Of course, the Rams only have this chance after the Cardinals lost their third straight game, falling 22-16 to the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas. The game was a mess for Arizona, which missed three kicks and took double-digit penalties, not to mention a bad snap that turned into a safety. The Cardinals are still almost locks for the playoffs, but a wild card spot might be their destiny.

In the NFC East, the Cowboys play on Sunday night at home against the Washington Football Team. Dallas is trying to stay a game back of the Packers for home-field advantage, while Washington is trying to stay in the race at all with a 6-8 record. Elsewhere, the Eagles are hosting the New York Giants, looking for a season split of the series after losing to the Giants at MetLife Stadium earlier in the month.

As for the No. 1 seed, Green Bay is already in prime position after hanging on to beat the Cleveland Browns on Saturday afternoon.

Lastly, the 49ers already lost on Thursday to the Tennessee Titans, so they’re set for the week. In Carolina, the Panthers are hosting the Buccaneers, and although Tampa is banged up without almost all of their stars, the Panthers are 2-8 in their previous 10 games and don’t have a functioning quarterback. Speaking of the NFC South and teams without quarterbacks, the Saints host the red-hot Miami Dolphins on Monday night, and try to win with rookie Ian Book under center.

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