This week the Los Angeles Rams head to the kelpy banks of Puget Sound to take on their old beaked buddies from the Northwest, the Seattle Seahawks. As you may remember, last season the Rams swept the Seahawks in a pair of hotly contested affairs. Looking back at those games, despite emerging victorious, the Rams would like to do a much better job against running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny this time around. So far this season, the Rams have in fact been vastly improved against the run, but will be without the services of inside linebacker Bryce Hager, who injured his shoulder in the Rams’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Hybrid safety/linebacker Taylor Rapp who splits time with Hager is also doubtful, so we may see guys like Marqui Christian and Travin Howard get a bunch of playing time.
Like the Rams offensive line, the Seahawks offensive line has also regressed this season, after enjoying a fair share of success in 2018. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 12 times in four games, two more than scramblin’ Jared Goff so far; but still it seems that much of this game will come down to which team is able to run the ball more effectively. On that front, it’s worth noting that Seattle is coming off a 104 yard effort from Chris Carson against the Arizona Cardinals, while the Rams all but ditched the very thought of running the ball their shootout with Tampa Bay.
Russell Wilson is still Russell Wilson, but has a couple of new favorite targets besides receiver Tyler Lockett. Second year tight end Will Dissly has become a weekly go-to guy for Wilson, and hulking rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf has stepped in and looked like a solid NFL receiver so far. Still with the Seahawks, the Rams will view things the same as ever: try to limit the ground damage and pummel Russell Wilson. Following a strong start to the season, the Rams defense looked awful last week, and will be looking to prove that the Tampa Bay game was an anomaly. If the Seahawks march down the field on the first drive behind Chris Carson it may be a long night.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end Frank Clark is gone to Kansas City, and Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah have arrived, but otherwise Seattle’s defense is pretty similar to last season’s unit. Of those three, so far Clowney has had the best 2019 so far, but even his impact has been inconsistent. Nonetheless, Clowney, Ansah, and emerging force Quinton Jefferson could be real handful for the Rams struggling line if they get going.
The story of the Seahawks defense though, remains their linebackers. Expect All-World middle linebacker Bobby Wagner will be everywhere on Thursday, as will KJ Wright and Mychal Kendricks.
As was the case against the Saints, Browns, and Buccaneers, the Seahawks secondary will be their most vulnerable unit on defense, despite Shaquill Griffin’s recent accession at the CB1 position. That being said, let’s hope the Rams don’t get lulled into forgetting about the ground attack again this week in an effort to avoid dealing with Seattle’s front seven. The Rams need to let their line redevelop an identity, which is hard to do if they’re moving backward all night, and it’s clear that Jared Goff can’t be his best self without a running game. Hopefully, the Rams milk the ground game and then finish the Seahawks through the air. All easier said than done in what may be wet and stormy conditions on the road.
One thing is for sure, although it’s still early, the Rams do not want to fall to 3rd place in the NFC West.