With four games to play, the St. Louis Rams stand 1.5 games behind Seattle for the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC.
The Rams can feel great about that after knocking off the division-leading San Francisco 49ers by a 16-13 score in overtime Sunday. They can feel even greater if their two-game winning streak propels them into the .500 range for the season or, better yet, into the playoffs in rags-to-riches fashion.
Around the NFC West: Dec. 3, 2012
Go ahead and dream, optimistic Rams fans.
At 5-6-1, the Rams stand 10th in the NFC playoff seeding race, just behind Dallas (6-6), Tampa Bay (6-6) and Minnesota (6-6). They have upcoming games against the Buccaneeres and Vikings. They also face the 7-5 Seahawks.
The Rams can do this. We've already laid out one scenario whereby three NFC West teams earn postseason berths. If the Rams can go 1-0-1 against the mighty 49ers and 4-0-1 against the NFC West overall, why can't they finish with victories over Buffalo, Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Seattle?
Perhaps it's because a six-game winning streak isn't realistic even for established teams, let alone the youngest one in the NFL.
Go ahead and wonder what might have been, less optimistic Rams fans.
If only St. Louis hadn't committed a penalty for illegal motion to wipe out an 80-yard overtime reception during a 24-24 tie at San Francisco three weeks ago. If only the Rams hadn't followed that game with a 27-13 home defeat to the horrendous New York Jets. If only a clock operator's error in Detroit hadn't given the Lions additional time to execute a comeback victory over the Rams in Week 1.
The Rams haven't been good enough in recent seasons to agonize over a close finish here or there. The fact that they're in position to do so now, after going 15-65 over the previous five-year period, makes this season a success already.
And it's not over yet.