Rams’ playoff shot improving with Matthew Stafford’s health

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Two years ago, Matthew Stafford led the Rams to victory in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

On Wednesday, the NFL announced that Super Bowl LXI, which will cap the 2026-27 season, was awarded to the Rams’ home .

Does Stafford, 36, anticipate still playing for the Rams?

“I have no idea,” he said, chuckling. “That’s a long way away.”

But Stafford would welcome the opportunity to play another Super Bowl in his home stadium.

“Absolutely,” he said, adding, “It was cool. … It’s a unique experience, getting able to do that at home. Don’t know what it would be like anywhere else, but it sure was fun getting it done at our place.”

After their Super Bowl victory, the Rams gave Stafford an extension through 2026, but salaries for the final two years are not guaranteed.

Stafford still is working on helping the Rams qualify for the NFC playoffs. The Rams are 6-7 heading into their home game Sunday against the Washington Commanders.

Despite their 37-31 overtime defeat to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, the Rams are in the hunt for a wild-card spot. They also have games against the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

Stafford’s outstanding play since returning from a right thumb injury keyed a three-game winning streak before the loss to the Ravens, the AFC’s top-seeded team. There was no drop-off by Stafford in the defeat, which ended when the Ravens returned a punt for a touchdown. He passed for 294 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

In the last three games, Stafford has passed for 10 touchdowns with one interception, giving him 19 touchdowns with nine interceptions this season.

“He’s played like Matthew,” coach Sean McVay said this week. “He’s a great player, and you can see he’s feeling healthy. … Guys are competing hard around him and for him and he has got great command of what he’s seeing.

“The guys up front are playing their ass off for him and he’s leading like the guy that we know, and that we all appreciate when he is doing Matthew Stafford-type of things.”

Stafford, a 15th-year pro, “knows everything” about the offense and is capable of making plays in and out of the pocket, tackle Joe Noteboom said.

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp (10) catches a touchdown pass against the Ravens Marcus Williams.

(Daniel Kucin Jr. / Associated Press)

“His confidence makes you want to block harder for him,” Noteboom said, “because if you do, you know he’s going to make something happen.”

Against the Ravens, Stafford connected for touchdowns with receiver Cooper Kupp, tight end Davis Allen and receiver Demarcus Robinson.

Stafford and receiver Puka Nacua also combined on a spectacular play in the fourth quarter. Nacua’s diving catch set up Robinson’s touchdown.

Stafford said a “competitive fire” is necessary to complete passes into tight spaces. Some of his best plays against the Ravens, however, were his decisions to throw away passes when the situation dictated.

“That play to Puka, [you] trust one in there to a small spot, 40 yards away on the other side or whatever it is,” Stafford said. “And then on the next play, if it’s not there, you gotta find it in you to not try and make that same play — and maybe throw it away. … Definitely have thrown some away that I feel like have helped us in the long run.”

The Ravens boasted one of the NFL’s top defenses. Now the Rams face a Commanders defense that is giving up 30.4 points and 266 yards passing per game, both worst in the NFL.

McVay said he does not “put too much merit into that kind of stuff,” especially with Commanders coach Ron Rivera taking over defensive play-calling from fired coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Stafford also anticipates a challenge.

“It’s going to look different every single week,” he said. “And you watch the landscape of the league, the way games are being played, I mean it’s anybody’s game at any moment.”

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