Overview—This is not a "must-win" for either team, but it is essential. Arizona has a very winnable home game on Sunday against a banged-up San Francisco team with a rookie quarterback. That means if the Rams lose, they most likely fall two games behind in the NFC West race. That's not insurmountable, especially with twelve games remaining on the new 17 game schedule. But it's not good either.
It may be an even bigger game for Seattle, as a loss would leave them (in all probability) three games out in the division race. That's getting into longshot territory in terms of the division. You don't like to write off the division race five games into the season, and that is almost where a loss would leave Seattle if the Cardinals beat the San Francisco Forty-Niners.
The Rams also want to prove that last week's debacle against the Cardinals does not represent the 2021 Los Angeles Rams. If they lose badly on the road in Seattle, we'll have to wonder about that.
Rams Defense vs. Seahawks Offense: We think the Rams will score some points in this game (more on that in a moment). That likely means the Seahawk's offense will have to put some points on the board, which is a task they are more than capable of achieving.
According to Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris, cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be matched up with D.K. Metcalf. That's a matchup of a couple of very physical players and a battle that Ramsey mostly won last season. On the other side, it's Darius Williams against Tyler Lockett. Lockett has been making some big plays this season, so that could be a key battle in this game.
After seeing what the Cardinals could do against Rams corner David Long last weekend, we're guessing long will be a marked man. Even Raheem Morris publicly admitted that Long just wasn't very well last week. That is simply the truth, and Long has to be better if he continues to see action for the 2021 Rams.
At last report, 'Hawks running back Chris Carson was rated as "questionable" for this game. We think he will play. He's Seattle's best back, and this is a big game. Arizona rushed for 200 yards on Sunday. While Kyler Murray played well, you can't give up 120 yards to the likes of Chase Edmonds and expect to win. Carson, if he is reasonably healthy, is a better running back than Edmonds.
You can't talk about this game without mentioning Russell Wilson's worst nightmare—Aaron Donald. A.D. has to hat some of his biggest games against Seattle, including a road win in the playoffs last season.
The Rams don't seem to be the same defense as in 2020 when the unit ranked number one. DC Morris is catching some heat, and the losses of safety John Johnson and cornerback Troy Hill seem to be having an impact. The Los Angeles D has to play better and specifically tackle better than they did on Sunday.
Rams Offense vs. Seattle Defense: While the Rams defense has not been perfect this season, the Seattle defense has been even worse. They were ranked dead last in the NFL in several categories. They've been awful against the run. One of the few bright spots for the Rams last week was running back Darrell Henderson, who had a big day until Los Angeles got a little pass-happy in their play calling. Part of that was a function of falling behind in the game, but Henderson may be the only Ram who played well last week.
They can't say the same for Sony Michel, who had a critical fumble that led to an Arizona touchdown and didn't get many carries. Michel was much better two weeks ago against Tampa Bay, but we're guessing Henderson will get most of the carries on Thursday night, assuming his still-sore ribs are up to it. If Ram's defense is as bad as they looked last week, a lot of long, time-consuming drives to keep Russell Wilson on the sidelines would undoubtedly help.
Neither quarterback Matthew Stafford nor wide receiver Cooper Kupp plays exceptionally well on Sunday. Stafford did throw for 280 yards, but he also turned the ball over and missed several open receivers. Kupp did not play up to his usual standards, and Arizona focused on stopping him, especially third down. Since that worked, you have to assume that Seattle will try the same strategy.
Where have you gone, Robert Woods? In recent years, woods, who has been a key contributor to the Rams offense, has all but disappeared in 2021. That needs to change, especially if the 'Hawks double up on Kupp, as we think they might. Vann Jefferson has had some big catches, but he can do more as well. The same could be said for tight end Tyler Higbee.
The Legion of Boom is a distant memory, but Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner remains. He's probably the best middle linebacker in the NFL. If the Rams go smash mouth, he'll be a key contributor in limiting the Rams running game.
Seattle's pass rush has shown some signs of life in 2021 after not being very good last season. The Rams O-line has given up a league-low three sacks. The battle in the trenches" may well decide this game.
Special Teams: The Ram's special teams have been showing improvement as the season goes on, but Seattle gets the edge here.
Coaching: We'll take Sean McVay over any NFL coach not named Bill Belichick. But Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris is under some pressure due to his unit's underwhelming performance so far. One exciting matchup will be Seattle offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. A former Rams assistant, going against Morris and his former team. You could probably argue this category, but we are going to check the box for Los Angeles.
Final Prediction: This could very well be a high-scoring, close game. But there is an old gambling adage (presented here for entertainment purposes only, of course) that you should always take a good team coming off a bad game. That's the Rams.
Rams 38 Seattle 35