Rams vs Seahawks : In these teams’ first meeting, the Rams lost receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to concussions in the first half and still managed 33 points. The Seahawks slowed Todd Gurley in that game, as he averaged only 3.5 yards per carry, but he still had three touchdowns. There’s little to suggest this game will be any different, and now the Rams are completely healthy on offense.
Last week, in a loss to the Chargers, Seattle allowed a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver, and if the Rams’ offense is able to have that type of balance, Seattle is in for another long day. Rams quarterback Jared Goff was stellar last week, other than one poor read on an interception late in the second quarter. EDGE: RAMS
The surface-level problem for the Rams is they got torched by New Orleans in the first half last week. The good news is, they responded with better tackling, pressure and (for the most part) coverage in the second half. That should continue. The other bad news for the Rams is the Seahawks are the type of team that can give them trouble, because they incorporate running backs and tight ends. Last week, the Seahawks attempted 36 passes, and 20 of them were targeted to a back or tight end. The Saints did a bit of that with Alvin Kamara and Ben Watson, and it worked. Expect the Rams to have a much better full-game showing than they did against the Saints, and that should be enough. EDGE: SEAHAWKS
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein surprisingly missed a 51-yard field goal last week – that’s surprising because Zuerlein is great and he was kicking off turf – but he bounced back with a 56-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that looked like it might have been good from at least another five yards. Seattle kicker Sebastian Janikowski is still going at age 40, but his consistency has been an issue at times and he had one miss last week. Rams punter Johnny Hekker has, in nine games this season, punted, kicked a field goal and an extra point, thrown a pass and had a rushing attempt. If there’s any justice, the Rams will have a big lead in a game this season and Hekker will get to catch a pass. Then it’s on to defense. EDGE: RAMS
Nothing has really changed for the Rams’ Sean McVay and the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll. They’re both still great at what they do, and both should have great game plans. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips becomes the interesting factor this week. It’s been really hard, for the past 40-plus years, to score more than 40 points on a Phillips-led defense. The Rams certainly didn’t expect an effort like last week’s game when they made their major offseason roster upgrades on defense. Phillips never seems to take himself too seriously, which is good because clearly he’s not going to be defined by one game. EDGE: RAMS
Bringing up real-life tragedies in a football discussion seems almost improper, but it must be noted: The Rams had a difficult week. First, they dealt with their emotions after a mass shooting took place late Wednesday only four miles from their practice facility. Then, for the next three days, wildfires spread across the area in which the Rams live. Approximately 20 players and coaches were forced to evacuate their homes, and the Rams did not practice Friday as scheduled. This probably won’t be a major factor, but it certainly was an unconventional week and the start of the game could be interesting. EDGE: SEAHAWKS
Rams cornerback Marcus Peters vs. Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin. Going out on a short limb with this one, right? Peters is coming off a shockingly bad game, and while Baldwin isn’t as dynamic as the Saints’ Thomas, he’s a great receiver who can give Peters problems, particularly because the Rams will have to keep an eye on Davis and Vannett in coverage. The question is whether this is all starting to get to Peters’ head. He doesn’t show it publicly, but what’s below the surface? In the teams’ first meeting, Baldwin was still playing his way back from an injury, but he had 77 yards last week against the Chargers.
There’s just no clear-cut path to victory for the Seahawks. In the first game, they had everything going for them – rainy weather, a huge, loud home crowd, a consistent run game and big pass plays – but they still couldn’t get the better of the Rams. There’s no indication things will change now. The Rams’ offense can be slowed, but no defense has been able to stop it. Perhaps the Seahawks and Carroll can cook up something new, but on the other hand, expect the Rams’ defense to be angry and ready to prove it is better than last week’s first half. If they can eliminate big pass plays, this margin might be bigger.