Overview: This is a tough game to forecast because, at this point, we do not know who are either of these teams. Are the Rams the team that breezed to a home win over New Orleans Saints and a road win over the Cleveland Browns, or the team that imploded last week against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that most consider mediocre? Are the Seattle Seahawks the playoff contender that their record says they are, or the team that barely beat a terrible Bengals team and had a meltdown against New Orleans in an ugly loss? Throw in a short week of practice and an intense divisional rivalry, and it all adds up to one big question mark.
Rams Offense vs. Seattle Defense: For all of the criticism of Rams quarterback Jared Goff over last week's meltdown against Tampa Bay, let us not forget that he put up some huge numbers in that game. Five hundred seventeen passing with the offense scoring 34 points is an effort that will add up to a win at least 80 percent of the time. The flip side of that is three turnovers, which is the number most people are referring to. In fairness to Goff, two of the picks were on tipped passes. He has developed a bad habit of fumbling on sacks, which has mostly been the result of trying to get away a last-second pass instead of just taking a sack. It is a problem that needs fixing in a hurry if the Rams will have any hopes of returning to the Super Bowl or even the playoffs.
The Rams offensive line was pretty bad on Sunday against Tampa Bay, and they will be tested again this evening. Nobody on this unit has played well this season, but right tackle Rob Havenstein and guard Austin Blythe have been especially problematic. Havenstein has the unenviable task of trying to contain the Seahawks Jadeveon Clowney tonight, one of the leagues better pass rushers. Having to do that on a short week playing in one of the league's toughest venues will be a considerable challenge.
The Rams only ran the ball 11 times last week against the Bucs, a number we expect to change dramatically this evening. Seattle has arguably the best middle linebacker in the game in Bobby Wagner, and outside linebacker, K.J. Wright is no slouch either. On the other side of the ball, Rams running back Todd Gurley has had some of his biggest days against the Seahawks. Gurley only carried the ball five times last week against the Bucs, sparking a new round of the ''Is he injured or not" debates. One of the best ways to dampen that Seattle pass rush would be an actual running game, and we have to think Rams Coach Sean McVay will call more than 11 running plays this week, if for no other reason than to protect Jared Goff.
The Rams receivers had a big week against Tampa Bay last week, and if the O-line can protect Goff, they should put up decent numbers tonight. That is a big 'if," though.
Edge: Rams (slight)
Rams Defense vs. Seattle Offense: The Rams are a little banged up on this side of the ball, and will be missing rookie safety Taylor Rapp and inside linebacker Bryce Hager. They are also coming off their worst performance in years against Tampa Bay. However, the upside for Los Angeles is the prospect of facing a Seattle offensive line that has been less than stellar this season. Seattle will have their best offensive lineman, left tackle Duane Brown, who missed practice earlier in the week. The Rams, meanwhile, are hoping for a big night from defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Who has historically tormented Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in these matchups? Wilson so far this year has been his usual fantastic self, racking up eight touchdowns and zero interceptions and a 114 passer rating. However, Seattle's rushing offense has been so-so this year, ranking 16th in the league after finishing first last season. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is an old-school ''ground and pound" guy at heart, and Seattle probably does not want to get into a shootout with the Rams, even at home. That probably means Seattle will at least try to run the ball tonight.
The Rams pass defense made Jameis Winston look like Aaron Rodgers last week, and they face the challenge of containing a much better quarterback tonight. Seattle's non-lethal receiving corps with big names, but veteran Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf are not bad players. Lockett racked up 11 catches and 154 yards against the Saints a couple of weeks ago, and Metcalf offers an exciting blend of speed and power. The Rams are expected to have cornerback Marcus Peters, who cleared concussion protocol after taking a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
For the majority of this game, this game will be hard to predict due to the inconsistent of the Ram defense. The defense played well before an awful showing last week against Tampa Bay. Factor in the injuries to Rapp and Hager, and we are going to check this box for the home team.
Special Teams: Rams placekicker Greg Zuerlein showed why he is one of the best last week, nailing a 58-yarder with room to spare against the Bucs.
Otherwise, these units are pretty close.
One thing we have not see this year is the fake punt attempt in which Rams quarterback Johnny Hekker reverts to his days as a high school quarterback. That has been a staple of the Rams special teams going back to the Jeff Fisher era. Will we see it tonight?
Prediction: Who knows? This game could be almost anything from a down-to-the-wire nail biter to an ugly blowout win for somebody. Our advice for anyone thinking of betting on this game is "do not." Seattle is a perfect nightmare venue for visiting teams, and the crowd noise can be very disruptive to opposing offenses. When considering our prediction for this game, we were strongly tempted to forecast a Seahawks victory at home.
However, as a Rams fan, I could not do it.
Rams 31 Seattle 30