With first place on the line in the NFC West division, the Seattle Seahawks travel to Los Angeles to take on the division leading Rams. Will the Seahawks win their second consecutive game or will the Rams continue to be the surprise of the NFC? Kickoff inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is at 4:05 PM ET.
Seattle (2-2, 1-0 NFC West) is coming off a much needed victory at home over the Indianapolis Colts. The Seahawks defense scored two touchdowns and led the team to victory. But, can they repeat their efforts this week in LA?
Los Angeles (3-1, 1-0 NFC West) has been the surprise of the NFC so far. They’re coming off a stunning upset victory in Dallas last week that saw the offense put up 35 points. Goff, Gurley and company were effective against an average Cowboys defense. But, this is a divisional game, where the intensity is cranked up and two teams just don’t like each other. The Rams have taken 3 of the last 4 overall games in this series. Will they win this week and put the division in a stranglehold?
The spread opened with the Rams getting 2.5 points. It has since shifted to a Pick’em game. Some books are giving Seattle +1, which we will definitely take. The Over/Under currently sits at 46.5 total points after opening at 46 points.
The Rams might not be as potent on offense as the Greatest Show on Turf was, but they’re definitely succeeding beyond the expectations of so-called NFL pundits. L.A. is averaging 35 ppg and 387 total yards per game. Most importantly, young quarterback Jared Goff is playing some great football as he’s amassed 1,072 passing yards and an excellent TD-to-INT ratio of 7-to-1.
To make things even more exciting is that the Rams are effectively running the ball again. Todd Gurley is averaging 90 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD per game. On the season, Gurley has 596 total yards and 7 touchdowns. This is a significant improvement over last year’s team and run game.
For the Seahawks to win this game, it all begins and ends with their defensive line. They need to control the line of scrimmage and make it hard for Gurley to run the ball. In their 2 wins on the season (vs SF and Indy) Seattle only gave up 242 yards per game. They also averaged 1.5 turnovers and 2.5 sacks per game. What’s not in the stat sheets is the amount of pressure Seattle’s defense caused in both games. If their front four can put pressure on Goff, and limit the rushing attack, then Seattle will be in a good position to win this game. However, they still need to score on offense, which isn’t something that I have a lot of confidence in.
Seattle looks erratic on offense. They can’t seem to get any kind of run game going. Don’t let the 121 rushing yards per game fool you as Wilson has added many scrambles to that total. Their leading back, Chris Carson, is out for the year and the remaining running backs can’t stay healthy for a full season. Additionally, Wilson hasn’t been able to win games by himself, like he’s done in the past. Although he’s putting up 256 passing yards per game, most of these yards have been late in the game when the team is down. See the Titans game as the perfect example of this. You take out his performance in that Titans game, and Wilson is only averaging 217 passing yards per game and 1 pass TD.
Ultimately, the Seahawks offensive line has been horrible at times. This week, they will have a tough challenge on their hands as the Rams defensive line is aggressive and can put pressure on Wilson. Without any established ground attack, it will come down to Russell making plays and connecting with his receivers down field. Wilson will have to get out of the pocket to extend plays and run when possible.
For the Rams to win, they will need to contain Wilson and, on offense, they will need to control the pass rush by Seattle. If Goff can get some time, he will be able to find some open receivers. However, Seattle is only allowing 198 passing yards per game, so Goff will need to be excellent in this game for the Rams to win.
Whichever team can control the line of scrimmage in this game should win. Typically, this is around the time of the season when Seattle starts to wake up. The last few years, they have slept walked through the first quarter of the season before making a run at the playoffs. This game should mark Seattle’s wake-up call for the 2017 regular season.
I expect Seattle to win this divisional slugfest. Look for their defense to get some turnovers and hold the high scoring Rams to their lowest output of the season. Also, look for Wilson to extend plays and pick up first downs with his legs. There’s room for Seattle to run against this Rams defense that gives up 151.5 yards on the ground per game. I can see Wilson, Rawls and Lacey combining for over 150 rushing yards in this one. Final score: Seattle 23 – Rams 19
The Rams are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games, 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 home games, and 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games where the spread is -3 to +3 points.