Matthew Stafford, Rams Clinch 2022 NFL Playoff Spot with Win over Vikings in Week 16

Adam WellsDecember 26, 2021

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) leads the team on to the field prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
AP Photo/Ralph Freso

For the fourth time in the past five seasons, the Los Angeles Rams will have an opportunity to play for a Super Bowl appearance. 

The Rams clinched a playoff berth Sunday with a 30-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

After losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round last season, Rams head coach Sean McVay decided it was time to make a change at quarterback.

A reported offseason meeting between McVay and Matthew Stafford in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, changed the direction of the franchise. Los Angeles sent three draft picks, including first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, and Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions to acquire Stafford.

Stafford has helped lift McVay's offense to new heights in his first season in the system. The 33-year-old looked like an MVP candidate to start the year. He threw for 2,477 yards, 22 touchdowns and completed 68.9 percent of his attempts through the first eight games.

The Rams defense hasn't played at the same level this season as it did in 2020 when it led the NFL in points allowed per game (18.5), but it remains a unit capable of dominating on any given week.

Aaron Donald had three sacks on Kyler Murray, including on the final play of the game, in a crucial Week 14 win over the Arizona Cardinals.


Aaron Donald calls game. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RamsHouse?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RamsHouse</a> <a href="https://t.co/u7jYWFRpFN">pic.twitter.com/u7jYWFRpFN</a>

A three-game losing streak in Weeks 9-12 did lead to some concerns about the Rams' sustainability with such a top-heavy roster. They lost Robert Woods for the season on Nov. 12 when he tore his ACL during practice.

In an effort to replace Woods' production, the Rams signed Odell Beckham Jr. after the Cleveland Browns waived him. The three-time Pro Bowler has four touchdown catches in six games with his new team.

Stafford's arm talent has unlocked new levels of Cooper Kupp's game. The fifth-year wideout entered Sunday leading the NFL in receptions (122), receiving yards (1,625) and receiving touchdowns (14).

At their best, the Rams have proved capable of beating any team in the NFL. They already have marquee wins over NFC contenders like the Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Given the volume of options at the skill positions, the Rams can score points with anyone. Donald and Jalen Ramsey are arguably the two best players at their respective positions on the defensive side of the ball.

McVay has already led the Rams to one Super Bowl appearance in his tenure as head coach. He's going to have another opportunity to get back there this season.