The next month is a critical stretch for the teams in the NFC West.
The Rams will be watching from afar.
They don’t play another divisional game until Dec. 1, when they travel to Arizona. But the other three teams in the division — San Francisco, Seattle and the Cardinals — will be slugging it out for a while.
This respite comes at the right time for the Rams, who Sunday ended a losing streak at three games with a victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“It always feels good to get back on track,” quarterback Jared Goff said after the Rams’ 37-10 victory. “We were able to move the ball and find guys that were open, I felt protected really well and was able to find a rhythm. It just felt really good and felt like it should feel while we are on the field.”
The Rams will stay in Atlanta this week to prepare for a game Sunday against winless Cincinnati in London. That’s followed by a week off, then a game at Pittsburgh against a Steelers (2-4) team that has played Mason Rudolph and undrafted Devlin Hodges at quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury. The Steelers did beat the Chargers in Los Angeles, so they aren’t toothless, but they’re not nearly as imposing without Roethlisberger.
That sets the stage for the next Rams home game, Nov. 17 against Chicago. Although the Bears beat the Rams in Chicago last fall, they are far more wobbly this season.
San Francisco, the NFC’s only unbeaten team, plays host to Carolina next week, then plays three consecutive division games: at Arizona, and then home against Seattle and the Cardinals.
The 49ers kept their record pristine Sunday, but not their uniforms, in a rain-soaked 9-0 victory at Washington.
Despite failing to score a touchdown in the Sunday slop, the 49ers have given up a combined 10 points in their last three games.
“That weather was as bad of weather we’ve played in since we’ve been here,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Just combined with that field, just how the field always is, it’s really tough for anyone to move.”
In the next three weeks, Seattle plays the last three teams to face the Rams. The Seahawks play at Atlanta, at home against Tampa Bay and at San Francisco before their week off.
After collecting a tie and three losses in the first month of the season, the Cardinals have played their way back to relevance with three victories in a row. It marks the club’s first three-game winning streak since 2015.
Arizona is facing a tough stretch, with three of its next four games on the road: at New Orleans, home against the 49ers, at Tampa Bay and at the 49ers.
“They all know what’s been said about this team,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said of his players. “We started with some tough losses, but they stuck together. … We’ve got a long way to go, but there is great leadership in that locker room.”
Leadership will be key in all four NFC West locker rooms, especially in a month that should set the stage for a competitive stretch run.