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    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs

    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/28/2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - They manhandled San Francisco in the first half on Oct. 3. Staged a fourth-quarter comeback of historic proportions in Seattle on Oct. 10. Two weeks ago in the Seattle rematch, the Rams put on a first-quarter offensive display reminiscent of the Greatest Show on Turf.

    But in terms of dominance in 2004, that's about it for the Rams. It's been a season of one step forward, one backward, adding up to a well-deserved 5-5 record.

    "We've been like a roller coaster this year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We haven't had much consistency, and that's what we're trying to do now. We're trying to find our identity. We can't be up and down. We can't play when we feel like it."

    With six games remaining and a lot left to play for, can the Rams finally kick it in gear? Are they even capable of finding that gear?

    "I'm hoping it starts Monday night," wide receiver Torry Holt said Saturday. "I'm really tired of the talking, because it's the same thing each week. We're preparing well. We're doing this well. We're doing that well.

    "Then we get out in the game and we start well, and then we have some mishaps. Now is the time to shut up and put up. So I'm going to see how we respond on Monday."

    Despite all of the pratfalls and setbacks, the Rams would qualify as a wild-card team if the playoffs started today.

    "I've mentioned that to them," coach Mike Martz said. "That's the reality of the situation, and they have to appreciate that. We have control of our own destiny at this point. And that has to mean something to them."

    Granted, this probably isn't the year the Rams make it to the Super Bowl. But given all they've gone through - including several left guards, a few right tackles, too many safeties to count, and some disastrous special-teams play - simply making the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons would be an accomplishment. And once you get in Paul Tagliabue's postseason pageant, who knows?

    "We're not happy with where we're at," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "That's pretty obvious."

    But, Bulger added, "We're not sitting here at 2-8. We're not where we need to be, but as bad as we've played, we're still in a position to make the playoffs."

    The NFL games on Thursday and Sunday only helped the Rams' postseason hopes. The New York Giants fell to 5-6 with a loss to Philadelphia. Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Arizona, Chicago and Detroit all fell to 4-7 with defeats.

    Most important, NFC West-leading Seattle fell to 6-5 after getting spanked by visiting Buffalo 38-9. So if the Rams can stretch their prime-time winning streak to nine games tonight in Green Bay, they will regain the lead in the West by virtue of the tiebreaker edge over Seattle. (Namely, going 2-0 this season against the Seahawks.)

    "We're still hanging on, that's the big thing," defensive end Leonard Little said. "It's a matter of just taking advantage of the opportunity and winning some of these games."

    Ten victories probably wins the NFC West. Nine victories probably gets a wild card. But are the Rams, losers of three of their last four contests, capable of a late-season roll?

    "I think the consistency we're looking for, we haven't had it," Bulger said. "We've been talking about it now for about a month. We need that full, complete game on both sides of the ball."

    Until they do that, the Rams will keep struggling. And of course, there are easier ways to reverse a slide than staring down Brett Favre on a chilly night at Lambeau Field.

    Winners of five in a row, Favre and the Packers (6-4) are rolling. They need a victory tonight to keep pace with Minnesota (7-4) in the NFC North.

    Today's forecast no longer calls for snow showers, as was the case a few days ago. Nonetheless, the temperature is expected to dip below freezing, which is Favre weather.

    When the temperature is 34 degrees or below at kickoff, Favre is 29-0 at home in the regular season - 36-1 if you include postseason play. The Rams, meanwhile, are 4-9 when the temperature is below 50 at kickoff since the move to St. Louis in 1995.

    Neither set of numbers bodes well for the Rams. Nor does the Lambeau mystique, although the Packers haven't been nearly as formidable there lately. Since the start of the 1992 season, Green Bay is 75-17 at home in the regular season, but it is only 7-6 since the start of '03, and only 2-3 this season.

    "When you start thinking about mystique and all that kind of stuff, you probably ought to play someplace else," Martz said. "Every stadium in the NFL's got something special to it. Lambeau's a special place, but we're not playing the mystique, or the name. We're playing the Packers."

    And that should be more than enough to keep the Rams busy tonight.


  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Thomas
    Ten victories probably wins the NFC West. Nine victories probably gets a wild card
    I got news for you Jim. This is only true for the Seahawks. Nine wins will be enough to give the West to the Rams. And now after the loss to Buffalo in Seattle, eight wins may well do it for the Rams.

    As I said earlier, we will lose in GB tonight and still win the division title.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    As I said earlier, we will lose in GB tonight and still win the division title.
    I sure hope you are right on the latter
    Socrates: Surf to live! and Live to Surf!

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