ST. LOUIS -- One of the most popular NFL traditions this time of year is scoreboard watching. Teams keep an eye on other teams around the league as the many different playoff permutations continue to evolve and change throughout the final weeks of the season. The St. Louis Rams have plenty of reason to join in the fun, though not for the same reason as many of the other teams taking part in the playoff process.
No, the Rams and their fans have little reason to pay attention to the teams at the top of the standings or appearing in playoff picture graphics on television. They're doing the opposite by keeping tabs on the games most people don't really seem to care much about. Teams like Jacksonville, Houston, Minnesota, Atlanta and Tampa Bay are now on the radar in addition to, obviously, Washington.
And though the Rams were unable to get a win Sunday in San Francisco, they did get plenty of help on the 2014 NFL draft front. The Redskins lost again, this time to the New York Giants, in a 24-17 decision. The loss dropped Washington to 3-9 and officially eliminated it from the postseason.
Washington is one of four teams with a 3-9 record, meaning the current draft order is based on the strength of schedule tiebreaker. When teams have the same record, they use strength of schedule and the easier schedules go first. In the chart is the current order after a fruitful Week 13 for the Rams in which Jacksonville, Minnesota and Atlanta won and the Redskins lost. Also, check out the entire 2014 draft order, which also includes strength of schedule.
Obviously, the key here for the Rams is for the teams around them to actually win games while the Redskins continue to lose. They play Tampa Bay in a couple of weeks, but other than that, they won't see anything but playoff teams on their own schedule.
This week, there's a draft nerd's dream game Thursday night as Houston and Jacksonville square off on national television. For Rams' purposes, a Houston win would be a good thing.
As for the Redskins, they missed a golden opportunity to get a win Sunday night against the Giants at home. Now, finding a win on their schedule becomes more difficult. The rest of Washington's slate: vs. Kansas City, at Atlanta, vs. Dallas, at Giants. The matchup with the Falcons is probably the best bet for a win, but even they are playing better recently and that game is taking place at the Georgia Dome.
With four games left, the Rams' draft needs are starting to come into focus a little bit. Safety, cornerback, offensive line and receiver are among the top needs with the secondary likely the top priority. But if the Rams land a pick in the top five, especially the top two, I'd expect them to be active on the trade market once again to try to keep the draft trade train rolling.