The NFL playoffs have begun! With the expanded playoff field, there were two full days of football, with three games on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday featured two games for the NFC, bringing together two heated division rivals, a goat, and a hungry 7-9 team.
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the expanded playoffs. I believe that the top two teams in each conference deserved a bye week. However, the expansion does let some of those fantastic teams who would just miss out on the playoffs in the old system, fight for the Lombardi. Let’s take a look at Saturday’s NFC battles.
Oddsmakers had the San Francisco 49’ers winning against the Arizona Cardinals. Most also expected the Los Angeles Rams to beat the Chicago Bears. Everyone knew the Seattle Seahawks would rest up and get healthy, with it being their bye week and all.
All of these things happened. Yet in all these expected outcomes, a few things stood out that were unexpected.
Let’s take a look at week 11 for the NFC West and peek into week 12.
Since the Seattle Seahawks were on their bye in week 11, I’ll start there. After beating the San Francisco 49’ers in week 10 on Monday Night Football, it was a prime time to get the bye week and rest up. The most significant thing we are waiting for more about is the injury wide receiver Tyler Lockett sustained at the end of that game. While head coach Pete Carroll said they expected him to be fine, no official word has come out.
The NFL has released the 2019 regular season schedule, and it’s almost time for the Rams to defend their status as NFC Champions.
It’s not the easiest start to the season.
Almost immediately, the Rams have to face their newest big rival as the New Orleans Saints make the trip to LA.
Then, just the next week there’s a second road game with the Cleveland Browns, who have made some incredible pick-ups during this offseason. The Rams haven’t faced the Browns since 2015, but they won that game mightily, coming off with a 24-6 win.
Admit it. You (read: ME!) were a bit scared upon learning that LA Rams running back Todd Gurley wasn’t going to be playing Sunday. Sidelined with a bum left knee, I WAS nervous that might have the potential to lead us to a third consecutive loss. Luckily, the Rams newest pickup, running back C.J. Anderson more than stepped up in Gurley’s absence, rushing for more than 160 yards and getting a touchdown.
It’s not that I don’t have confidence in the team. I still think the Rams will win the Super Bowl. Losing two games in a row was just so odd and not something we have seen the Rams do this season. So, ok. I got nervous. I’m over it now and when a friend texted me late Sunday night asking “Do you think we can beat the 49ers?” I immediately replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
White rally towels flickered throughout the stadium reading “LA Together,” as the LA Rams dedicated Monday night’s game to first responders and those affected by the California wildfires and the mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks.
Members of the Cal Lutheran University choir sang the national anthem as first responders and their families carried an American flag that stretched the length of the field before the start of the Rams’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Players and coaches from both teams wore dark gray hats with logos of Los Angeles-area firefighter and law enforcement agencies.
From start to finish, this was a playoff caliber game. Billed as the “Game of the Year,” this matchup somehow managed to exceed expectations.
It was inevitable. We said last week that the odds of going 16-0 were almost impossible. However, what a great game this was!
While New Orleans was dominant early, the Rams put on an amazing comeback in the second half, tying the game with 21 unanswered points.
While the final result wasn’t what Rams fans were hoping for, we can be reassured in knowing that no deficit is too big for this team to overcome. It’s just one game and the Rams still have the best record in football, sitting tied with the Chiefs at 8-1.