The St. Louis Rams have taken first place in the NFC West with a win over the Denver Broncos. The Rams and the NFL Playoffs haven’t been said in the same sentence in quite a while, but now their playoff destiny is in their hands for the rest of the 2010 NFL season. The Rams were just 4-6 coming into this weekend, but their 36-33 win over Denver, combined with the Seattle Seahawks loss to the Kansas City Chiefs left both teams at 5-6 for the year. St. Louis owns the tie-breaker, though, after beating Seattle 20-3 back in week 4 of the schedule.
Now the Rams have just five games between them and their first postseason in a number of years. The thought had been that these Rams would be improved during the 2010 NFL season, but this division was going to be owned by the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers started out the season very slowly, though, leaving the division lead open for the Seattle Seahawks to sweep in and take. They couldn’t hold on to it, though, losing three of their last four games (by blow outs), and failing to beat the Chiefs in a game that they really needed to win Sunday. The Rams took full advantage of their opportunity this time.
The Rams have three division games left on their schedule, in addition to games against the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. Those three division games are split with one game each against Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona to close out the season. If they can sweep through the division games, they will sew up the division win and get to host a playoff game in the first round. That week 17 game against the Seahawks could have the division on the line, as the Rams have to travel to Seattle and play the final game of the regular season on Jan. 2 against their chief division rival.
So how have these Rams played themselves into first place? You don’t need to look any further than rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, who has thrown for 2,466 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. He has also only given up nine interceptions, and is well on his way to being the offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL. With each game out there, it seems like he is maturing as a player, and by throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, he showed that he has already come quite a long way.
Now Bradford has Rams fans filled with hope again, and they will try to defend first place in the NFC West on Dec. 5 against the Arizona Cardinals.