Rams cling to slim playoffs hopes, but schedule provides no relief

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- What a difference a season makes.

Nearly 53 weeks after the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs produced an all-time thriller on Monday Night Football, the Rams hoped to produce an encore against the surging Baltimore Ravens.

But the Rams proved no match for MVP frontrunner and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who sprinted to a 45-6 victory. The lopsided loss left the Rams wondering, a season after appearing in Super Bowl LIII, where they go from here.

At 6-5, the Rams' playoff chances plummeted from 17.5% to 8%, according to ESPN's Football Power Index.

"All we can do next week is try to find a way to get our seventh win," said Rams coach Sean McVay, who produced back-to-back division titles in his first two seasons in L.A. "That's where our sole focus and concentration remains."

But what about the playoffs? The Rams are two games behind the Minnesota Vikings (8-3) in the wild-card race.

"We obviously need some stuff to happen, but I don't think it's completely out of the realm of possibility at all," said quarterback Jared Goff, who has thrown five interceptions and no touchdowns over the last three games. "We're still very much in it and just got to keep fighting."

"Those things have a way of working themselves out if you deserve to be able to get an opportunity to compete afterwards," McVay said. "But what we're going to be focused on is looking at this, moving forward."

Recovering from a blowout loss like the one suffered Monday night, and on a short week that coincides with Thanksgiving, could be easier said than done.

The Ravens scored six touchdowns on six consecutive possessions, as they piled up 480 total yards of offense and left the Rams' defense scattered and dizzied across the field. "I never thought in a million years we'd get completely destroyed," safety Eric Weddle said inside a postgame locker room that emptied quickly.

The Rams' offense, which has struggled to establish momentum throughout the season, once again found itself at a standstill. Running back Todd Gurley rushed for 22 yards on eight carries, and Goff passed for 212 yards, with two interceptions.

"We had opportunities, we just messed them up ourselves," said Gurley, who has not rushed for 100 yards in a single game this season. "Just one of them games. Just get blown out and got to move on to the next one."

Five games remain, including four in division. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Rams' remaining strength of schedule ranks fifth in the NFL.

"You can't look at rankings and standings and where you are," defensive end Michael Brockers said. "You just really have to put your head down, come to work."

The Rams must travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals (3-7-1) on Sunday before returning home to face the Seattle Seahawks (9-2), who are in position to earn a wild-card playoff berth.

In Week 15, the Rams travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys (6-5), then they head to the Bay Area for a rematch against the conference-leading San Francisco 49ers (10-1).

Barring a dramatic change in circumstances, they will close the season at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 29 against the Cardinals.

It could be the Rams' first time missing the playoffs in McVay's three seasons.

"We just focus on the task at hand every single week," said receiver Brandin Cooks, who returned against the Ravens after spending the last two games sidelined because of concussions. "We're not looking [at the playoff picture], we're letting everyone else look at that and [it will] take care of itself. But anytime you start to look past teams and saying, 'Oh, if we do this, if we do that,' you tend to fall apart."

Goff did not break character, as he appeared calm and collected following Monday night's loss. But even he couldn't help but to admit that losing in a blowout, at home, certainly stung.

"Obviously this one's going to hurt," Goff said. "The way it went is never good. We got beat pretty good. We'll treat it the same way and come back [Tuesday] with the same attitude and keep fighting.

"That's all we can do."