It's only the fifth game of the season, but as early season division battles go, this is a really big game.
Rams Offense Vs. Seattle Defense
This matchup is strength against strength, and really matches two of the league's elite units. The number one key here, and maybe to the entire game, is Todd Gurley against the Seahawks run defense. If Gurley has another day like he did against Dallas last week, the Rams win this one hands down, barring a rash of turnovers by the Rams. The Rams receivers, meanwhile, will face their toughest test of the season against Richard Sherman and the 'hawks secondary. Sherman has been battling a groin injury but is expected to play. But pass-rushing demon Cliff Avril is out, and in fact there is some question about when and if he will play again after suffering a severe neck and spine injury. If Gurley has a big day it will limit the Seahawk pass rush, and as good as their secondary is, they can't cover the Ram receivers forever. Several other Seahawk defenders are banged but are expected to play. This is the biggest test so far of a Ram offense that has put up 35 points a game, first in the league.
ADVANTAGE: Rams, if only because of injuries. But it's close
Ram Defense vs Seattle Offense
This is the ''non-marquee'' matchup in this, which doesn't mean it won't decide the outcome. The Seahawks did put up 46 points against an inept Colts defense last week, but otherwise they have been pretty bad. The Seattle offensive line started out as a disaster area, and injuries have made that situation worse. Seahawks running back Chris Carson is out with ankle injury that has landed him on injured reserve. That means Seattle will have to count on Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy to run that ball, and that probably isn't a good thing. Of course, if there is one quarterback who can offset a weak O-line and deficient running game, it's Russel Wilson, who is the master of turning broken plays into big plays. The Rams rush defense has been a big problem area, although they did play much better in the second half last week against Dallas. Aaron Donald is showing signs of a return to form, and Micheal Brockers has been coming on lately as well. But the Rams inside linebackers are smallish for 3-4 inside 'backers, which is one reason the Rams rush defense has been erratic. Their pass defense has been somewhat better, but still not great. The Los Angeles defense and Seattle offense are both problem areas, and this game may hinge on which unit can rise to the occasion.
As far as the kicking game, I don;t think there is a better duo than Greg Zuerlien (who kicked 7 field goals against Dallas) and Johnny Hekker (the best punter on the planet.) The Rams special teams recovered a key fumble last week Against Dallas Cowboys, and returners Tavon Austin and Pharoah Cooper are a dangerous duo. I am still waiting for Austin to have a monster game returning punts; he's just too fast and dangerous to control forever. Of course, he is also fumble prone, and that is always a concern.
This is a big game that could go either way. A Rams win would put them in the driver's seat in the division race, while a Seattle victory could mean an all-out dogfight the rest of the rest of the way. As a Rams fan I am nervous about this game, but they have a history of playing Seattle tough in recent years with far less talented teams than this one. Home field advantage and the Seahawk injury issues also bode well for the Rams, but this is far from a slam-dunk. B All things considered, I have to go with my team.
ChrisRams 28 Seattle 24