Rams Clinch Playoff Spot, Niners and Raiders Eliminated From Contention
As Week 13 winds down in the NFL this is the time of year where teams are being eliminated from playoff contention while others are punching their tickets to the 12-team dance that begins in January. On Sunday, we had our first casualties in the playoff race and our first team to clinch a playoff spot in hopes of winning this year's Super Bowl. With a Monday Night Football game still to be played in Week 13, four weeks left in the season, and 11 playoff spots still up for grabs anything can happen. But for now, let us recap the eliminations and clinchers in the NFL this weekend.
Eliminated: San Francisco 49ers (2-10)
After coming into the season with high hopes after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo emerged as their starter at the end of last season, the Niners found themselves at the bottom of the NFC. Garoppolo tore his ACL back in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco has turned to C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens at the quarterback position in his absence. If not for a devastating injury as such, the Niners could very well still be in the playoff hunt. But for now they will have to wait until next season in hopes the quarterback they made the highest-paid in the league will be fully healthy and ready to lead the team on an upswing. With just four weeks to go, the Niners could look at who their starter will be next season if Garoppolo is not healthy to begin the year between Beathard and Mullens who are both under contract next season.
Eliminated: Oakland Raiders (2-10)
From trading linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bear to trading wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders have done it all this season. After a disappointing 2017 campaign which saw them finish 6-10 and firing head coach Jack Del Rio, the Raiders locked up Jon Gruden as their new head coach with a 10-year contract. The results have been atrocious this season with Derek Carr being unable to lead the offense which is among the worst in the NFL this season averaging 18.3 points per game. Furthermore, the defense has given up 30.6 points per game which is second-worst behind a reeling Cincinnati Bengals team. This was a team that looked like it was on the upswing just a couple of years ago and now they are in shambles. If there is any good news for Raiders fan it would be the fact the team has five first-round picks in the next two seasons, hopefully they can hit on a few of those selections and build for the future.
Clinched: Los Angeles Rams (11-1)
After a thrilling Monday Night Football win versus Kansas City the other week, the Rams came out of their bye and took care of business against the Detroit Lions to clinch the NFC West title as well as become the first team to clinch a spot in the postseason. This team is an absolute juggernaut on offense with Jared Goff commanding them at quarterback, Todd Gurley running wild in the backfield and their receiver depth making contributions with Cooper Kupp out for the season. Yes, we saw the Rams make the playoffs and lose in a home game to the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card round, but this year feels different. Los Angeles is now in the driver seat to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC as long as they keep winning. New Orleans lost to the Cowboys last Thursday and since they own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams it will be important for LA to keep the pedal to the metal until the very end.
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