Rams looking to bounce back from first loss
The Seattle Seahawks (4-4) and the Los Angeles Rams (8-1) will get together at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for their second meeting of the season. Both teams are coming off tough losses, but after the horrific tragedy in Thousand Oaks, California, on Wednesday where 13 people lost their lives in a mass shooting, it puts things in perspective that football is a game and can bring communities together at the same time. Expect the atmosphere at the Coliseum on Sunday to be very emotional and electric as it will be a great opportunity for the Rams and their fans to show a strong united front to the world.
Seattle was manhandled physically in a 25-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate. Chris Carson got off to a nice start in the first quarter rushing the ball for 40 yards but left the game with a hip injury. Russell Wilson reverted to his form during the first two weeks where he took too many unnecessary sacks instead of throwing the ball away. The defense couldn’t slow down Phillip Rivers as the Chargers threw for 226 yards and found a way to get timely big plays in the running game from Melvin Gordon. Also, the loss to the Chargers was the first home loss against an AFC team since a 34-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 30, 2011.
The Rams suffered their first loss of the season last week by a score of 45-35 to the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Rams ran into an offensive buzzsaw as Drew Brees shredded their secondary for 346 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Alvin Kamara was another problem for Los Angeles as Kamara rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns, which was enough to keep the Rams defensive line at bay. Jared Goff did a very good job of getting Los Angeles back in the game during the second half as Goff threw for 391 yards along with three touchdown passes and one interception. Todd Gurley was kept in check running the football as rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries and should have been utilized a little bit more as 13 touches is not enough for Gurley.
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 11 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Rams -9.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Seahawks' wide receivers against Rams' secondary
With the issues that Marcus Peters has had in recent weeks for Los Angeles you can expect Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to go after Peters and the rest of the Rams secondary. The idea of putting together sustained drives is great on paper, but the Seahawks wide receiver trio of Doug Baldwin, David Moore and Tyler Lockett is going to have to play well Moore caught three passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns in Week 5 against the Rams. Lockett also caught three passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. If they can get separation against press coverage it will set Wilson up to try and launch a few medium to long passes to stretch the Los Angeles defense out. If they don’t and the offensive line struggles against Aaron Donald, then all bets are off.
2. Pound the rock with Todd Gurley
Gurley should see the ball at least 25 times on Sunday between running and catching balls out of the backfield. In the teams' first meeting, Gurley rushed for 77 yards on 22 carries and scored three touchdowns. In addition, Gurley caught four passes for 36 yards against the Seahawks defense. K.J. Wright should end up getting assigned to Gurley in pass coverage and that will be a great one on one matchup all afternoon long. The fly sweep is going to be a weapon for head coach Sean McVay against the Seattle defense. Wide receiver Robert Woods rattled off 53 yards on a pair of fly sweep runs during the first meeting in Seattle this season. Expect that fly sweep implemented within the first two series to get the Seahawks on their heels quickly on defense.
3. Jared Goff vs. Seahawks' secondary
The Seahawks secondary had an up and down afternoon in their first matchup with Goff this season. Goff threw for 321 yards, but Seattle did come up with two interceptions at key moments. Patience is going to be important for the Seahawks secondary as they are going to give up yards what they can ill afford to do is give up too many chunk plays on Sunday. Wide receiver depth should also play to Goff’s advantage as Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks are going to have advantages over Shaquill Griffin and Justin Coleman, the cornerbacks for Seattle. Goff will methodically pick apart this Seahawks secondary over the course of four quarters and get another 250-300-yard type of performance.
This will be a fascinating game to watch unfold as both teams have a sense of urgency to get this win for multiple reasons. First, Los Angeles needs to keep pace with the Saints as it doesn’t look like they are slowing down anytime soon. Next, Seattle needs this to avoid a second two-game losing streak this season and to get back over the .500 mark. Keeping the game close and getting it to the fourth quarter will provide the best chance to win for the Seahawks. They are going to have to avoid the catastrophic turnover that results in a defensive touchdown. So ball security and sound decision making by Wilson are going to be vital this week. Bottom line, Seattle is going to give a solid effort, but they will fall short against the Rams on Sunday. On the other side, Los Angeles will be able to keep pace with the Saints in the race for home field advantage in the NFC playoff picture and also bring at least a little bit of joy to the community by winning their ninth game this season.
Prediction: Rams 27, Seahawks 16
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.