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All season long, Rams fans have been pulling for every team that’s played against the Cardinals. Until this past Sunday, Arizona was the top team in the NFC West, so it’s only natural that Rams fans would want the Cardinals to lose as often as possible.
But in Week 17, a win by the Cardinals could actually help the Rams.
The Cardinals are facing the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in what’s surely a critical game in the NFC with major playoff implications. The Cowboys are currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC at 11-4, tied with the Rams. However, because the Cowboys have a better record in games against NFC opponents, they have the tiebreaker over the Rams.
The Cardinals are 10-5 and one game back of the Rams. If the Rams win and the Cardinals lose, the NFC West will be clinched by Los Angeles on Sunday. For that reason, a loss by Arizona wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
But the Rams stand to benefit far more from a Cowboys loss. If the Cardinals upset Dallas, the Rams can take over the No. 2 seed in the conference with a win over the Ravens. That would set them up to face the team in the seventh spot when the playoffs begin, which is likely to be the Eagles, Falcons, Saints or Vikings.
Those teams would be far easier opponents than the Cardinals or 49ers would be if the Rams finish in the third or fourth seed – something that will probably happen if the Cowboys win on Sunday.
Of course, the Rams don’t want the Cardinals to win if they lose to the Ravens earlier on Sunday. That would give Arizona control of the NFC West again, pulling ahead of the Rams for the division lead and dropping Los Angeles to the fifth seed.
That would set up the Rams to potentially visit the Cowboys in the wild-card round, which would be much tougher than hosting the Eagles, Falcons, Saints or Vikings in the event that Los Angeles earns the No. 2 seed.
Either way, if the Rams beat the Ravens on Sunday, they’ll be in a win-win situation when the Cardinals and Cowboys square off in the late-afternoon window. If the Cardinals win, the Rams will take the No. 2 seed. If the Cowboys win, the Rams will clinch the division.
It’s just that for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the Rams should have their eyes on the No. 2 seed.