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What the Saints loss means for the Rams, and potentially Week 17 vs. 49ers

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The Rams got a big boost on Thursday.

The Dallas Cowboys got Week 13 started with a big home win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, which impacts the NFL playoff picture heading into Sunday. The win improves Dallas’ record to 7-5 and they added a half game to their lead over Washington in the NFC East. Washington travels to Philadelphia on Monday for a primetime showdown with big divisional implications.

Meanwhile, New Orleans drops to 10-2 and a half game back of the Los Angeles Rams for best record in the NFC. The Saints are still 3.5 games up on the Carolina Panthers, so the NFC South remains firmly in control. They have the tiebreaker edge on LA, but if the Rams win out, the tiebreaker won’t matter.

The Rams close out their schedule with road games against Detroit and Chicago, home against Philadelphia, at Arizona, and at home against San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Saints’ final four games are at Tampa, at Carolina, vs. Pittsburgh, and home against Carolina. The Rams biggest chance for a loss is at Chicago, while New Orleans has at least a couple opportunities for losses.

Which brings us to our 49ers. For the time being, San Francisco a strong chance of securing the worst record in the league. They play Seattle twice, and then Denver, Chicago, and LA. If the Rams were to secure home field advantage before that final game against the 49ers, they might decide to rest starters. They would have a bye, so they might not want them to sit all that time between games, but it would be on the table. However, if they have not secured HFA by the start of Week 17, they would send out their starters, which likely would not end well for San Francisco. Well, I suppose if it secured the No. 1 overall pick, that might be considered a good finish.

The 49ers could spring an upset along the way these next four games, but aside from Denver, it’s tough to see it happening. And in that case, the Rams will be the team to watch for the 49ers coming down the home stretch.