Prior to the start of the season, many experts and analysts saw the NFC West as a two horse race between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers. While the division has turned out to be a two horse race, the defending champion Rams are not a part of it, as the Seattle Seahawks have shocked the league and find themselves just a game back of the NFC West lead.
When the Seahawks traded away quarterback Russell Wilson, it seemed they had begun the first steps of a roster rebuild. A training camp quarterback competition between Geno Smith and Drew Lock was something many fans poked fun at, however, Geno Smith silenced all the critics and has turned in a better 2022 campaign than the man they traded away in Russell Wilson.
The emergence of the Seahawks along with the fall from grace of the Los Angeles Rams has created a match-up between perhaps two of the biggest surprises of the 2022 season, which will make for an awfully interesting game between the teams.
Here are 3 reasons as to why the Rams will break their losing streak against the division rival Seahawks, along with 3 ways the L.A. losing ways will continue:
3 REASONS THE RAMS WILL WIN
1) ESTABLISH THE RUN, OPEN UP PLAY-ACTION
The 2022 Seattle Seahawks have proved to be a very solid football team despite the doubters during the off-season, however, they do have a glaring weakness. That weakness is their run defense, which ranks 28th in the NFL in total rushing yards given up thus far.
Teams are averaging a whopping 4.9 yards per carry against the Seahawks this season, which is also ranked 28th in the NFL. Even though the Rams rank 31st in the league in rushing yards, this Seattle defense will be the worst unit against the run they have seen all year, presenting a unique opportunity for L.A. to get the ground game established early and often.
With Bryce Perkins slated to make his second career start, the Rams will need to support him with a strong rushing attack in order to open up some passing lanes for the young quarterback. Perkins also brings an extra element to the running game with how athletic/mobile he is, so L.A. could potentially go with an extremely run heavy gameplan.
When the Rams win this Sunday, expect the ground game to have a massive impact on the outcome.
2) DEFENSE CREATES MORE TURNOVERS, HOLDS SEAHAWKS TO FIELD GOALS
Last week in Kansas City, the Rams were expected to get blown out of the water by the best team in the NFL in the Chiefs. However, the Rams hung around for a vast majority of the game, mainly due to the stellar performance of the defense.
The L.A. defense held the most potent offense in the NFL to just two touchdowns, forcing K.C. to settle for a total of four field goals in the game. Not only that, but they also intercepted Patrick Mahomes in the endzone, which was a big play when the Rams were only down 10 points.
The defense will likely need a similar performance this week to give the Rams a chance to win this game because, while the Seahawks offense is not as talented as the Chiefs, this version of the L.A. offense needs all of the help they can get.
When the Rams beat the Seahawks this week, expect the defense to have a stellar performance en route to the fourth victory of the year.
3) STOP KENNETH WALKER III
The Seahawks had an absolute animal of a running back in Marshawn Lynch during their years of dominance in the 2010s, and they may have found another one.
Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III has been the offensive rookie of the year in the NFL thus far, as he made the most of his opportunity following the season-ending injury to the previous starting running back in Rashaad Penny. Walker has a total of nine rushing touchdowns since taking over, with three games in which he scored two TDs in a single game.
The Rams have had few things to be proud of this season, with one of those few things being the performance of their run defense. Newcomer Bobby Wagner has made his presence felt all season long in the middle of the defense, becoming one of the bright spots on one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL.
When the Rams win on Sunday, expect the run defense to have a big day in containing Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker III.
3 REASONS THE RAMS MAY LOSE
1) DOES MCVAY TRUST BRYCE PERKINS?
Slated for his second career start, Bryce Perkins will look to get his first victory as an NFL starter against a division rival. In his first start, Perkins seemed to be very limited in terms of the plays McVay allowed him to run, as the L.A. offense was playing ultra-conservative up until they absolutely needed to start scoring some points.
The team relied heavily on the run last time out, so much so that they became extremely one dimensional due to the lack of any sort of downfield threat. In the first half, Perkins attempted a total of five passes, an unprecedentedly low number of attempts in such a pass heavy league. Perkins ended up attempting 18 passes in the second half, as McVay finally allowed Bryce to throw the ball as opposed to relying so heavily on the run.
If the Rams want to win this game. McVay will have to take some risks with his young quarterback, even if he may be limited in terms of overall arm talent and accuracy. This, however, could backfire and lead to many mistakes on the offensive side of the ball, which could prove fatal for this Rams team.
If the Rams lose this week, expect the offense to be one dimensional due to the talent at the quarterback position.
2) GENO SMITH CONTINUES GREAT QUARTERBACK PLAY
Geno Smith is a good quarterback. Geno Smith has outplayed former Seahawks (and now Broncos) quarterback Russell WIlson.
If I said those two sentences prior to the start of the 2022 season, people would have called me a lunatic. Well, those two sentences have become a reality, and Geno Smith has proven to be a damn good quarterback for Seattle.
Sitting at 6-5, Geno Smith has the Seahawks in prime position to make the postseason, leading all starting quarterbacks in completion percentage at 72.8%. Not only that, Geno is also sixth in the NFL in passing yardage (2,802), tied for fifth in passing touchdowns (19), and a league best passer rating (107.9) among starting quarterbacks.
It is safe to say that Geno Smith has performed like a top NFL quarterback this season, and a ton of his teams overall success can be attributed to his steady play. If the Rams lose this Sunday, expect for Geno Smith to continue to shine with his elite level of play.
3) NO AARON DONALD
For the first time in his illustrious playing career, Aaron Donald will miss a game due to injury.
Donald has been one of the most consistent and steady players in the NFL since he entered the league back in 2014, becoming one of the greatest defensive players in the history of football. There is no question that when he is on the field, the Rams are a whole lot better.
Los Angeles has struggled to generate pressure this season, as Donald has been the only player on the defensive line who has made a real impact on a game-to-game basis. Without Donald, there is a real chance that we see a massive drop-off in both run and pass defense, which could lead to Seattle having their way with a unit that has been the Rams strong-point thus far.
If the Rams drop the game against the Seahawks, expect the absence of Aaron Donald to be felt massively.