The NFC will very likely have a new champion this season.
The Los Angeles Rams have gone from a Super Bowl appearance to barely hanging onto slight hopes at a playoff spot. The Rams postseason hopes got a bit of life with a two-game winning streak, and then a really ugly 44-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday all but ended that. The Rams are 8-6 and one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments.
The Rams and Cowboys have both had rough seasons. But with a win next week at Philadelphia, the Cowboys will clinch the NFC East and go to the playoffs. The Rams will need something just short of a miracle to make the playoffs.
Rams are listless in loss at Dallas
The Vikings, who beat the Chargers on Sunday, lead the race for the final wild-card spot in the NFC by two games with two to go.
The Rams looked nothing like a playoff team on Sunday anyway. Two plays sum up their disappointing loss that all but ends a frustrating season. In the second quarter, two Rams defenders ran into each other, leaving Cowboys receiver Tavon Austin running by himself across the field. Dak Prescott found him, and Austin didn’t have a defender anywhere near him as he coasted into the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown.
The Rams trailed 21-7 but had a chance to score before halftime when the other soul-crushing play happened. Jared Goff threw an interception over the middle to linebacker Sean Lee. After a long return put the Cowboys in great field position, Ezekiel Elliott punched in a touchdown to turn the game into a rout.
Cowboys get back on track
The Cowboys were just happy to see a team in worse shape than itself.
After weeks of lethargy, the Cowboys finally played a good game. They’ll need to play another one next week when they face the Philadelphia Eagles, with the NFC East title likely going to the winner.
At least the Cowboys have that to look forward to. Assuming the Rams don’t get a miracle playoff spot, they’ll go into the offseason with a lot of work to do. Goff seemed to be dealing with a right hand injury on Sunday and that affected him, but Goff has been below average most of the season. The Rams now have less salary cap flexibility due to his massive extension. Los Angeles has traded a lot of draft picks, too. That has eaten away at their depth. The Rams still have a lot of blue-chip talent but they’ll need to get creative this offseason to build a roster that can contend for a championship.
The Rams didn’t put up much of a fight on Sunday, when they needed a win to keep pace with the Vikings in the wild-card race. That’s fitting, considering how their NFC championship defense went this season.
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