EARTH CITY, Mo. -- At 4-6 with six games to play, any chance of the St. Louis Rams making the postseason is faint at best.
A closer examination reveals that although the Rams have a lot of work to do, it may not be impossible. That's because the current NFC playoff picture is nothing short of muddled with six teams sitting between four and six wins.
With only two games separating the Rams from six-win clubs San Francisco, Arizona and Chicago for the two wild-card spots, the Rams have a chance to get back in the mix but also maintain a margin for error that is nearly non-existent. According to the good folks at NumberFire, the Rams' chances of making the playoffs sit at 0.7 percent. That's well below Chicago's 59.7 percent, San Francisco's 36.3 percent and even Arizona's 17.2 percent, among others.
Looking at it realistically, it's probably going to take at least 10 wins to get into the playoffs, though it's possible a 9-7 team could sneak in.
After Carolina's win against New England on Monday night, here's how it breaks down with the teams behind the four division leaders right now.
San Francisco: 6-4
Green Bay: 5-5
New York Giants: 4-6
That's seven teams for two spots ahead of the Rams (the Giants hold the current tiebreaker), leaving the Rams in a position where they'll almost certainly have to win out to reach the postseason. The chances of that happening are slim to say the least. For what it's worth, I have the Rams going 3-3 over the final six.
Making matters more difficult? The Rams play one of the toughest schedules of the teams hoping to compete for the final spot. They play on the road against Seattle, Arizona and San Francisco, all of whom currently sit in front of them in the NFC West. They also have a home date against New Orleans, a team primed to land a top-two seed for the playoffs.
Of course, the Rams also have a date with the Bears this weekend, yet another team sitting ahead of them on the NFC ladder. Put simply, the Rams play five of their final six against teams with winning records and each of those teams is ahead of them in the mix for the playoffs.
Looking at that slate as an indication that the Rams have a tough schedule is probably the proper context but there's also another angle to it: The Rams can make up ground more easily by taking on teams standing in their way.
For those Rams fans looking for a glimmer of hope, perhaps some solace can be taken in the history of head coach Jeff Fisher. The Rams would need to win seven in a row to close the regular season, meaning they'd have to win their final six games after a 38-8 win against Indianapolis before the bye.
As head coach of the Tennessee Titans in 2006, Fisher & Co. opened the season with five consecutive losses and a 2-7 record through nine games. From there, the Titans won six games in a row to get to 8-7 before dropping the season finale against New England to finish 8-8 and just short of the postseason.
In 2009, Fisher's Titans started 0-6, including an embarrassing 59-0 loss to New England but turned it around with their season on the line to win eight of their last 10 to get to .500.
Those types of turnarounds are exceedingly difficult to pull off, particularly with a backup quarterback, but the Rams have a coach with a history of stringing wins together at the end of a season.
The odds are overwhelmingly against the Rams making a legitimate run at a postseason spot, but a win against Chicago on Sunday would be a good start toward trying to create some hope.