Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season will get rolling on Thursday night when the Seattle Seahawks (3-1) host the Los Angeles Rams (3-1) in a battle between two teams looking to keep pace with the undefeated San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West race.
The desert was kind to Seattle on Sunday, as the Seahawks methodically took care of the Arizona Cardinals in a 27-10 win. It was a game in which the Seahawks systematically steamrolled Arizona in all three phases. Russell Wilson was efficient throwing the ball, completing 22-of-28 passes for 240 yards with one touchdown pass to tight end Will Dissly. Chris Carson got back on track, taking care of the football and rushing for 104 yards on 22 carries. Jadeveon Clowney displayed his impressive speed and athleticism on his 27-yard interception return in the first quarter to give Seattle a 10-0 lead that it would never relinquish.
Los Angeles will be looking to have a very short memory this week after losing a wild, 55-40 affair to Tampa Bay at home for its first loss. Jared Goff completed 45-of-68 passes for 517 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions. Goff also fumbled the ball with 1:06 left in the fourth quarter, and it was returned for a touchdown by former Ram Ndamukong Suh to put the game away for the Buccaneers. The running game was nonexistent; Los Angeles ran the ball 11 times for 28 yards as the Rams fell behind 21-0 and had to switch to a pass-heavy game plan. The Los Angeles secondary had nothing for Jameis Winston, who completed 28-of-41 passes for 385 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
Los Angeles at Seattle
Kickoff: Thursday, Oct. 3 at 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: FOX/NFL Network
Spread: Seahawks -1.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Pass protection
Keeping the quarterback upright is always critical when these two teams get together. Russell Wilson has been sacked 12 times so far in four games, and that number would be higher if not for Wilson's escapability. Wilson is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly; historically, the Seahawks' offensive line has had its issues with the Aaron Donald-led Rams defensive front. Jared Goff has been sacked 10 times so far in 2019 and was under siege all day long on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Expect Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to call upon his defensive front to blitz a bit more than normal early on to get Goff out of rhythm. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Mychal Kendricks will need to make plays all night and take advantage of any opportunities to cause havoc.
2. Seahawks wide receivers vs. Rams secondary
This particular storyline will be fun to watch unfold. Tampa Bay was aggressive and not afraid to go after Los Angeles with some deep shots to stretch the defense, and they hit a couple of big plays for backbreaking touchdowns. Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are the best deep threats for the Seahawks, and they both need to see a couple of deep-ball targets in the opening quarter. Tight end Will Dissly will also need to get the ball on intermediate routes down the middle of the field to keep the Rams honest. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and the rest of the Rams secondary have to put Sunday’s struggles behind them, as they will be facing a much better quarterback in Wilson on Thursday night. There are a couple of minor health concerns for the Rams in their secondary; Peters got evaluated for a concussion, and rookie safety Taylor Rapp left the game with an ankle injury.
3. Feed Todd Gurley
Gurley heads into Week 5 looking for his first 100-yard rushing game of the 2019 season. Gurley got off to a good start in Week 1 at Carolina, rushing for 97 yards on 14 carries. However, over the last three games, Gurley has rushed for just 122 yards on 35 carries. The lack of consistent touches for Gurley makes you wonder what, if anything, is wrong with him health-wise. On the other hand, Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay and the rest of the offensive staff could be feeling pressure to throw the ball more than normal to justify Goff’s $134 million contract. It is going to be very important for the Rams to stay patient with the running game on Thursday night, as Gurley has had plenty of success in the past running the ball against the Seahawks defense. A more balanced look offensively will stress the Seattle defense.
In 2018, these two teams played two games in which each team scored north of 30 points, and this game on Thursday night should not be any different. Jared Goff will spread the ball around to Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks without a ton of difficulty. Russell Wilson will stay in a zone and not turn the ball over, but the pressure by the Rams will eventually catch up to Wilson in the second half. Los Angeles will end up outlasting the Seahawks in a high-scoring, entertaining affair that will pay NFL fans back for the hard-to-watch Cincinnati-Pittsburgh Monday night game that wrapped up Week 4.
Prediction: Rams 38, Seahawks 34
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.