This week’s trip to CenturyLink Field in Seattle doesn’t quite feel like it used to. The Seahawks are no longer one of the league’s premier teams, but still they remain a semi-dangerous divisional road test, and they aren’t without weapons.
Traditionally the Rams have had tons of success punishing quarterback Russell Wilson. It will be interesting to see if the Rams new interior-centric pass rush is able to feast the way previous Rams defenses did. Seattle’s offensive line has played better than they did in recent seasons. Their strength lies in the interior with guards Ethan Pocic and DJ Fluker, but will it be enough to semi-neutralize Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers? Most likely, the answer is not much.
Russell Wilson will need to unload the ball quicker than he usually does, which could pose a issue for Seattle since Wilson has enjoyed greater success on slower developing plays so far this season. Seattle has capable receivers in Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jaron Brown. So far, under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (eek!) Seattle has run an ultra conservative offense, last week only throwing a single pass over 20 yards.
The Seahawks have gone to the ground game in recent weeks and have gotten 100-yard efforts from both Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Unlike the Rams zone blocking schemes the Seahawks have been pounding the ball up the gut. If they are able to continue their success on the ground this weekend, that could potentially set up some play action for Wilson, if Schottenheimer is willing to pull the trigger.
Despite high profile departures and injuries, Seattle’s defense remains a strength.
They are currently ranked seventh in yards allowed, and ninth in points surrendered. The Seahawks pass defense has been stingy, only allowing 204.2 yards a game through the air (fifth in the league), and are fourth in the league in opponent’s passer rating, 77.2. With the loss of Earl Thomas to a leg injury last week, it will be a challenge for the Seahawks to continue their success against the Rams aggressive passing attack. However the Seahawks still have plenty of talent at the safety positions with Bradley McDugald, Tedric Thompson, and Delano Hill. Also worth noting is that the Seahawks overall secondary depth should help them avoid compromising mismatches against the Rams receivers, as was the case when the Rams continuously torched Vikings’ linebacker Anthony Barr last week. Look for Seattle’s slot defender Justin Coleman to end up guarding Cooper Kupp often on Sunday.
Seattle has talent up front, but their run defense has allowed 122.5 yards per game. Look for the Rams to use Todd Gurley to set up their passing attack this week earlier than they have in other games this season. Another matchup to watch will be Andrew Whitworth vs defensive end Frank Clark. If Clark can’t disrupt Jared Goff, Seahawks corners Shaquill Griffin and rookie Tre Flowers may end up getting taken to school by receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.
What will happen?
The Seahawks have elements that could disrupt the Rams, and Pete Carroll teams have been knows to elevate their game against elite opponents, but they will need a near perfect effort to end up outscoring this Rams team. It seems unlikely that the Seahawks will get this one, but as always with division games, pay attention. There’s no doubt the Seahawks have been thinking about this matchup since they were embarrassed by the Rams at home last December.