The Los Angeles Rams are coming out of the bye week in Week 11 as they take on the Seattle Seattle. It’s a bit of a turning point in the season for the Rams as a win will keep their very slim playoff chances alive. Back in Week 1, the Rams surprised the Seahawks and came away with a 30-13 win. Sean McVay has always had success against Pete Carroll. Will the Seahawks overlook the Rams for a second time? Here are five keys to victory for the Rams in Week 11 against the Seahawks.
1. Win on third down
It seems pretty simple, but the Rams need to be able to win on third-down in this game on both sides of the ball. In Week 1, the Rams went 11-for-17 on third down on offense while the Seahawks went just two-for-nine. It hasn’t gotten much better for Seattle this season on both sides of the ball.
The Seahawks rank 30th in third down conversion rate at just 31.5 percent. Meanwhile, they also rank 30th in third down defense, allowing conversions at a clip of 45.5 percent. The Seahawks are 31st in third down defense EPA and 30th in third down offense EPA. Los Angeles must win on third down to come out with the series sweep in 2023.
2. Protect the football
This is another pretty obvious one, but coming out of the bye, the Rams need to keep things simple and obvious. The Seahawks are tied for fifth in the NFL in fumbles forced this season. Tre Brown and Devon Withspoon have combined for three forced fumbles. Brown also has two interceptions.
The Seahawks defense is much-improved since Week 1, and that's especially the case in the secondary. It’s going to be crucial for Matthew Stafford not to turn the ball over and for the Rams ball carriers not to put the ball on the turf.
3. Get pressure on Geno Smith
The best way to disrupt the Seahawks offense is to get pressure on Geno Smith. He ranks 10th in the NFL in turnover worthy throws under pressure. Smith is good at mitigating negative plays. When you get opportunities as a defense, you have to be able to take advantage.
Raheem Morris did a good job getting pressure on Smith in the first game of the season. It’ll be important for the Rams to be able to do the same on Sunday and force a quarterback who generally plays safe into mistakes.
4. Bend but don’t break on defense
Throughout the season, the Rams defense has been very hit or miss in the red zone. There have been games where they have been lockdown inside the 20, whereas other games, teams have been able to find a lot of success. They rank 11th in the NFL this season in red zone touchdown percentage allowed, but it’s inconsistent at times.
The Rams defense needs to be able to bend, but not break against the Seahawks. Seattle ranks 22nd in points per red zone trip and 26th in touchdowns per red zone trip. Their 48.5 touchdown percentage ranks just 25th in the NFL. The Rams defense needs to be able to force field goals.
5. Take advantage of Seattle’s lack of offensive line continuity
In the second half of the game in Week 1, the Rams were able to take advantage of the Seahawks offensive line injuries as they were without both their starting tackles. It hasn’t gotten much better for the Seahawks. While Charles Cross is back, the Seahawks offensive line has been below average. They’ve played nine different offensive line combinations at various points this season. That’s the second-most in the NFL behind only the New York Giants.
Raheem Morris should be able to take advantage of that, especially when it comes to their ability to communicate. If Morris can dial up some creative pressure packages in big moments, the Rams defense should be able to get to Smith.