NFL Playoffs: How Rams can clinch division, historic playoff berth with win over Chiefs in Week 11

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Despite suffering a crippling loss to one of their top offensive playmakers on Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams are rolling right now, getting out to 9-1 after beating the Seattle Seahawks in L.A. on Sunday to sweep their division rival for the season. As a result of that sweep and the general mediocrity of the Cardinals and 49ers, the Rams could potentially clinch the NFC West next week.

Yes, next week as in the Monday BEFORE Thanksgiving, when the Chiefs and Rams square off in Mexico City on “Monday Night Football” in Week 11. 

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Marc Sessler of NFL.com reported the news and, with an assist from NFL Research, notes that this would be the earliest an NFL club clinched a division since the 1985 Chicago Bears, a defensive behemoth that came within a single game of a perfect season, locked down a division title in Week 11 as well.

The setup is actually pretty simple: if the Packers beat the Seahawks in Seattle on Thursday night in Week 11 (Seattle is an early 2.5-point favorite) and the Rams beat the Chiefs, the Rams will clinch the division. 

Math is hard, but the math here is very easy. Seattle would be 4-6 and the Rams would be 10-1. The absolute worst the Rams could do is go 10-6 and the absolute best the Seahawks could finish would be 10-6. With the Rams having swept Seattle, they would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. 

Two things worth noting here. 

One, the Rams effectively clinched the division when they beat the Seahawks on Sunday. Los Angeles isn’t going to close without a single win and the Seahawks probably aren’t going to win out or go 6-1 in their final seven games. The best Seattle can do now this season is 11-5, so two more wins and the Rams clinch the division anyway. 

Two, if you’re freaking the geek out over the idea of Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Jared Goff and the rest of the Rams players sitting and ruining your fantasy team, don’t worry too much about it. The Rams have one loss and it’s to the Saints and they should spend the remainder of the year chasing New Orleans for the top seed in the NFC so they can secure homefield advantage/force Drew Brees to play somewhere other than the Superdome. 

There’s always a chance the Rams could sit their starters for Week 17 if their playoff position is locked in, but Week 17 is always a crapshoot anyway. 

Next week’s potentially high-scoring matchup against the Chiefs should provide plenty of fireworks and potentially a little bit of bubbly if the Rams are able to lock down the division. 

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