The NFL is heading into Week 17 with a lot less drama than we’ve had in recent years. Seven of the eight division winners are determined, and the biggest matchups will be for the final wild card berth in the AFC.
The San Francisco 49ers travel to face the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17, and it remains to be seen just how much the Rams will want to win this game. They have won the NFC West, but due to tiebreakers, cannot earn a first round bye. They are locked in to either the third or fourth seed depending on who wins the NFC South.
The question for 49ers fans is how much the Rams will want to win on Sunday vs. rest their players for wild card weekend. As the three seed, the Rams would host the Atlanta Falcons or Seattle Seahawks, and with a win advance to face the second-seeded Minnesota Vikings. As the four seed, the Rams would host either New Orleans or Carolina, depending on who does not win the NFC South. With a win their divisional round opponent would depend on who wins the 3/6 game. If the three seed wins, the Rams would face the top seeded Philadelphia Eagles. If the six seed win, they would face the Vikings.
All of this is to say, do they see this as the best chance to position themselves to face the Eagles in the second round? Or do they just play to win and let the chips fall where they may?
I would much prefer the 49ers get everything the Rams have to offer. It would give them a bigger challenge to close out the season than if the Rams rest some of their starters. My guess is McVay plays for the win, but we’ll see what he has to say later this week.
NFC playoff standings
1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
2. Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
4. New Orleans Saints (11-4)
5. Carolina Panthers (11-4)
6. Atlanta Falcons (9-6)
In the hunt: Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
AFC playoff standings
1. New England Patriots (12-3)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)
5. Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
6. Tennessee Titans (8-7)
In the hunt: Los Angeles Chargers (8-7), Buffalo Bills (8-7)