Russell Wilson and the Seahawks can clinch the NFC West with a win at home over the Rams
Well, at least it isn’t another trip to Lambeau Field on tap for the Seattle Seahawks as they return to the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field to take on the Los Angeles Rams. Last Sunday’s trip to Green Bay was one that the Seahawks would rather forget as they were annihilated 38-10 by the Packers.
Russell Wilson was absolutely horrendous, completing just 22 of 39 pass attempts for 240 yards with one touchdown pass and five interceptions. Defensively, Seattle basically took the weekend off as Aaron Rodgers did whatever he wanted throwing the football, taking advantage of the absence of Earl Thomas in the secondary as this game was over before halftime.
The Rams will be playing with an interim head coach in special teams coach John Fassel as owner Stan Kroenke finally had enough of Jeff Fisher and fired him on Monday after Los Angeles was destroyed at home by the Atlanta Falcons 42-14. In all phases of the game the Rams looked like a team that was disinterested, as Atlanta led 42-0 after three quarters. Jared Goff struggled, going 24-for-41 for 208 yards with two interceptions. Todd Gurley was average at best, rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He has failed to reach the century mark in 20 of the last 21 games. But that didn’t stop Gurley from sounding off in his postgame interview, saying the Rams “looked like a middle school offense” against the Falcons.
Los Angeles at Seattle
Kickoff: Thursday, Dec. 15 at 8:25 p.m. ET
Broadcast Channels: NBC, NFL Network, Twitter
Spread: Seahawks -14.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Rams’ level of overall focus
This game will be decided right away if Los Angeles comes out and goes through the motions tonight. In recent games against Seattle, the Rams have done an excellent job of controlling the line of scrimmage defensively and making life miserable for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense. It is going to be critical once again for Los Angeles to get pressure on Wilson and not let him get loose on the perimeter to make plays in the passing game. Therefore, if the Rams at least pretend to care and get some consistent pressure on Wilson then they will have a chance to keep this game competitive.
2. Seahawks’ secondary vs. Jared Goff
Century LinkField is usually very unkind to young, inexperienced quarterbacks when they visit for the first time. And Seattle’s secondary should be in a rather foul (or fowl, if you prefer) mood this week after being torched by Aaron Rodgers last Sunday, not to mention cornerback Richard Sherman’s latest verbal tirade lobbed directed at the NFL. Sherman referred to “Thursday Night Football” as a “poopfest” and quite frankly, he is telling the truth as fans of all 32 teams are robbed of a high-quality product with these mid-week games. However, the fact remains that the Legion of Boom has to play better moving forward without Earl Thomas if the Seahawks are going to make any sort of a run in the playoffs. Look for a couple big plays early on from the secondary as Goff has shown so far that he is susceptible to turning the football over.
3. Russell Wilson
After having one of the worst performances of his career with five interceptions up in Green Bay, it will be important for Wilson to bounce back quickly. The Seahawks will need to get some short, quick passes going early to get Wilson back on track and then mix in some shots down the field to stretch the Los Angeles defense. In addition, Wilson is going to have to take advantage of any open space and pick up some yards with his legs against the Rams’ aggressive and athletic defensive line. By leaving Wilson in the pocket, he will become a sitting duck and this game will evolve into a 9-3 slugfest like what happened back in Week 2 in Los Angeles.
If you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing football game as a casual football fan then you are going to be very disappointed. Between the hideous action-green NFL color rush uniforms the Seahawks will be wearing and their issues on offense in recent meetings with the Rams, the reality is points will be at a premium. With Seattle being back at home, look for the Seahawks to handle the short turnaround better and protect the football, something Russell Wilson did not do last week in Green Bay. It will not be pretty, but Wilson and company do enough on offense to outlast Los Angeles in a low-scoring game to win their third NFC West title in the last four seasons.
Prediction: Seahawks 17, Rams 9
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.