The Los Angeles Rams (3-1) enter Week 5 in unfamiliar territory. They currently lead the NFC West as they prepare to face the rival Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, October 7.
The Rams last met the Seahawks just days after firing former head coach Jeff Fisher in December 2016. Seattle dominated the Rams 24-3 on their way to another NFC West title. Nearly 10 months later, new life has been breathed into the Rams franchise in the form of head coach Sean McVay and his staff.
Gurley and Goff are the key
McVay’s Rams currently lead the NFC in scoring at 35.5 points per game. The offense’s biggest improvement can be found in second-year quarterback
Jared Goff, who has completed 78 of 117 passes for 1072 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in four games. Rams fans last saw a rating like his (112.2) during the Kurt Warner/Marc Bulger era.
Running back Todd Gurley serves as Goff’s favorite target at the moment. Gurley sits at second in the NFL in rushing (362 yards) and total yards (596). He’s already recorded 20 catches for 234 yards and three receiving touchdowns in four games.
Goff and Gurley will serve as the key for a Rams victory on Sunday. The defense struggled for a third straight game last week, and the offense will need to continue to outscore teams while defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’s system entrenches itself.
Fortunately for both Goff and Gurley, the Rams offensive line has done the job in 2017. The unit must keep it up against the Seahawks on Sunday. Seattle’s defense enters the game ranked fourth in the NFL against the pass at 184.8 yards per game. On the flip side, the Seahawks have totaled only four sacks in their four games and forced only four turnovers thus far. The Rams will likely focus on the weaker Seattle rush defense (134 ypg) to set up their passing game. If Los Angeles can open some running lanes for Gurley, look for Goff to spread the ball around to all of the weapons on this suddenly deep offense.
Pass rush must perform
Defensively, the key of the game for the Rams is the front seven. L.A. is 30th in the NFL (151.5 ypg) against the rush and 27th in total yards. However, the Rams also start Week 5 tied for third in the NFL with 12 sacks. Pressuring Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is the name of the game if Los Angeles is going to contain him and his offense. The odds are good that the Rams will at least make life difficult against the Seahawks’ offensive line that traditionally struggles against Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn.
The Seahawks’ offense may not be what head coach Pete Carroll wants it to be at this point in the season, but it still has plenty of talent. There are playmakers at every skill position, including running back Eddie Lacy and tight end Jimmy Graham. Strong play from the front seven is a must for the Rams to win.
Overall, the momentum is on the side of the Rams. Their huge victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 meant the world to this franchise. They will enter this game confident they can finally be the team that sets the standard in the NFC West.
Prediction: Rams 24 Seahawks 17
Want more? Listen to our preview podcast here.