The Los Angeles Rams (7-5) bounced back from their Week 13 trouncing with a 34-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1). It was a much different look than their 45-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens (10-2). The Rams seemed to dominate on all phases of the ball. Now, the Rams must win the Seattle Seahawks (10-2) to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Seahawks are in first place in the NFC West, just over the San Francisco 49ers (10-2) after beating them in Week 10. The Rams are one game behind the Minnesota Vikings (8-4) in the hunt for sixth seed in the NFC Wild Card playoff spot. This game will serve as a rematch from their last meeting in Seattle. The Rams lost 30-29 after missing a field goal in the final seconds of the game. They will need to play with the same intensity in Los Angeles.
The Rams face a familiar, yet efficient offense. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and receivers Tyler Lockett, Josh Gordon, DK Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown and tight end Jacob Hollister can be dangerous in the passing game. Wilson had 21 passes on 31 attempts for 240 yards and two touchdowns with one interception against the Vikings. He currently has 258 completions on 383 attempts for 3,177 yards and 26 touchdowns with four interceptions in 2019. He also ranks third in rushing for Seattle with 284 yards and three touchdowns. Against Minnesota, Moore caught a 60-yard bomb from Wilson, although he is significantly behind Lockett and Metcalf in receiving yardage for the season.
Running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are also powerful weapons. Carson leads the Seahawks in rushing with 231 carries with 981 yards and five touchdowns. Against the Vikings, he earned 102 rushing yards with one touchdown. Penny had 74 rushing yards and 33 yards receiving with two total touchdowns.
In their last meeting, Wilson and Goff competed well against each other in passing. Goff had 395 yards and one touchdown with one interception. Wilson had 268 yards with four touchdowns. Although Wilson obviously scored more, the Rams balanced their offense well with running back Todd Gurley. Gurley rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams also utilized both tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee for big yardage gains.
The Rams look a little different compared to the last meeting with the Seahawks. Everett will not play due to a knee injury but expect Higbee to make big plays again. The offensive line has also had a makeover with Austin Blythe at center, David Edwards at right guard and Bobby Evans at right tackle in place of Rob Havenstein (still out on injury). Cornerback Marcus Peters is now a Baltimore Raven and cornerback Aqib Talib was traded to Miami. This brought up Troy Hill to replace Talib and the Rams traded for Jalen Ramsey.
The Rams lost returner JoJo Natson to a hamstring injury suffered against the Cardinals. In his place, Nsimba Webster will return punts and running back Darrell Henderson may return kickoffs. Webster led in receiving in the preseason with 15 catches for 150 yards. Henderson has 37 carries for 140 yards. They will also give the Seahawks a new challenge.
With offensive line changes, Goff has had to adjust, make better decisions and read defenses better. He had his best performance of the season against Arizona with 32 passes on 43 attempts for 424 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked only once. For the season, Goff has 283 completions on 453 attempts for 3,419 yards and 13 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He also has two rushing touchdowns.
The Rams wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and tight end Higbee had a dominate showing against Arizona. Woods had a season high 13 catches for 172 yards. Kupp had six catches for 65 yards and one touchdown. Higbee had seven catches for 107 yards and one touchdown. Receiver Brandin Cooks has not had a huge year, especially after missing several weeks in concussion protocol, but this may be a breakout game for him. Cooks has 31 catches for 458 yards and one touchdown this season. Kupp still leads with 73 catches for 945 yards and six touchdowns. Woods has 64 catches for 835 yards with one rushing touchdown.
Wilson is the superior quarterback when it comes to his keen scrambling ability. While running out of the pocket, he can pull off near-impossible passes. He also has double the number of touchdown passes as Goff, but Goff has more passing yardage and just as many offensive weapons.
The Rams will also need to continue to feed Gurley. Gurley had 19 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown against the Cardinals. He has 642 yards and eight touchdowns for the season. Running back Malcolm Brown will be a good substitute in reps. He currently has 209 yards rushing and three touchdowns but can break tackles up the middle just as well. Seattle’s defensive front is stout against the run and strong in pass rushing. They have a combined 16 sacks for the season. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright lead in tackles with 115 and 104, respectively.
Rams rookie Evans has surprised fans and coaches with his success at right tackle. He may be charged to handle Seahawks star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney. The Rams can place Higbee or Johnny Mundt alongside him to assist in blocking the defensive end. They enabled the same strategy against the Chicago Bears to contain Khalil Mack.
The Rams defense will need to be ready as well. They have their defenders in corners Ramsey and Hill along with a stellar corps of linebackers. Linebackers Dante Fowler Jr., Clay Matthews and Cory Littleton, each registered one sack against Arizona. The Rams’ defensive line also had a total of three sacks. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the team with 9.5 sacks. Matthews and Fowler follow close behind with eight and 7.5 sacks, respectively. They will have their hands full with Wilson and need to be sharp in containing him, giving as much pressure as possible.
Currently, the Rams are a 1.5-point favorite, playing at home. They historically play the Seahawks tough, especially in the last few seasons under head coach Sean McVay. The Rams have won three out of the last five matchups.
Kickoff is Sunday at 5:25 p.m. PST on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.