NFL Playoffs: How COVID-19 Actually Helped the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl Chances

Article Highlights:

  • The Los Angeles Rams stand to benefit from the NFL’s recent COVID-19 problems
  • Sean McVay’s team had roughly 35 players test positive during the Omicron breakout in December, meaning they won’t need to test during the NFL Playoffs
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t as fortunate

Every win-now move the Los Angeles Rams made in recent years culminated in the team winning the 2021 NFC West division and securing a postseason spot for the fourth time in five years.

In spite of quarterback Matthew Stafford’s recent turnover problems and various COVID issues, the Rams won five of their final six games and locked up the NFC’s No. 4 seed. Although the veteran gunslinger is still turning the ball over, he’s at least doing so on a team that stands to benefit from the league’s COVID protocols.

The Los Angeles Rams’ COVID-19 problems actually helped their Super Bowl chances

The Los Angeles Rams take the field in 2022.
The Los Angeles Rams actually stand to benefit from the league’s recent COVID-19 issues and the organization’s own December outbreak | Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

For a time in December, it felt like the Omicron variant would put a significant dent in the NFL season. The league postponed three games over outbreaks and briefly considered moving the Super Bowl from Los Angeles to Texas because of the states’ differing COVID-19 mandates.

According to NBC Sports, the Rams placed roughly 35 players, including several starters, on the COVID list. When those players left the list, either by testing out or returning from quarantine, they entered a 90-day window during which they don’t require further testing.

Basic math dictates that 90 days is roughly three months, and March is three months after December. In other words, those players won’t have to worry about testing during the NFL Playoffs and missing any win-or-go-home games.

All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey is among the Rams who won’t need to worry about COVID testing

A quick glance at the Rams’ December transaction list shows some familiar names who went on the COVID list. All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee each went on the list on Monday, Dec. 13, only hours before a 30-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Both returned within the next six days.

Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. joined the COVID-19 list a day later, and linebacker Von Miller followed him two days after that, and those are only the star players. Los Angeles placed numerous other players, including running back Darrell Henderson Jr., on the reserve list in December.

If the Rams intend to win a Super Bowl, they’ll likely need Ramsey and Higbee in the starting lineup. Beckham (27 catches for 305 yards and five touchdowns) and Miller (five sacks) have played well since arriving midway through the season.

Rams fans will likely notice two notable names missing from that window. Stafford and All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald are not in the 90-day window and, if they test positive, could miss a playoff game.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t as fortunate

Although the Rams could benefit from the 90-day window, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t as lucky. Football fans will remember when the All-Pro quarterback went on the COVID-19 list in early November and subsequently made an infamous appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.

Flash forward three months. If Green Bay makes the Super Bowl, Rodgers will exit the 90-day window in the first week in February. Super Bowl 56 will take place on Sunday, Feb. 13, which would be problematic if the three-time NFL MVP tests positive again.

As the No. 4 seed, the Rams already have a difficult road to the Super Bowl, especially if a win in Super Wild Card Weekend sends them on the road to Green Bay in the Divisional Round. However, at least head coach Sean McVay knows he won’t lose Ramsey or Beckham to daily testing. Every little bit helps when the playoffs begin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Over 423 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through November 1, 2021. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.”

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