With the NFC West lead at stake on Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks host the Los Angeles Rams, the Seahawks need a big game from their defensive line, in particular Frank Clark. Clark played well when these two teams faced off in week 5, including this fourth quarter strip sack of Jared Goff after handily beating Rams LT Andrew Whitworth.
Frank Clark owning Andrew Whitworth and causing the strip sack. pic.twitter.com/rHG6iGIHmT— Jonathan Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) October 10, 2017
The Seahawks need a big game out of Clark and he may be poised to take advantage of an aged and hobbled Whitworth.
Whitworth has not practiced this week after getting injured in the Rams loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14. Having celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, Whitworth is the oldest offensive lineman to have appeared in a game this season, and is nearly six months older than the second oldest lineman in the league. If his age and the long NFL season have finally begun to catch up with Whitworth it could prove detrimental to the Rams and their playoff aspirations. It could, however, be a boon for the Seahawks.
Another interesting injury situation to watch for the Rams will be at right tackle, where Rob Havenstein is also battling an ankle injury. Havenstein returned to the game against Philadelphia after suffering the injury, but was clearly hobbled. How Havenstein performs early while playing through the injury will be something to watch. Even though the injury is not likely to prevent him from playing, just as was seen when Justin Britt played through an ankle injury earlier in the season for the Seahawks, it may be enough to not allow Havenstein the ability to get any push in the run game.
Michael Bennett will be lining up across from Havenstein, and Bennett is a handful for any NFL tackle, much less one playing on only one healthy leg. With the defensive line looking to reassert itself after failing to put much pressure on Blake Bortles in Jacksonville, facing a less than healthy Rams line may be just what is needed.
The Rams offensive line is the most beat up it has been all season, and Goff has been sacked 12 times in the last five games, after being sacked only ten times through the first half of the season. The Rams are just 3-2 over that five game stretch, and a loss to Seattle on Sunday combined with other things that are likely to happen around the league could lead to some interesting scenarios, including this possibility (shoutout to commenter qrtqrt for pointing this out in Century Links):
Wow, interesting scenario:— LeadingNFL ™ (@LeadingNFL) December 14, 2017
If the Rams lose to the Seahawks on Sunday and the Falcons defeat the Buccaneers on Monday, the Rams will drop from the 3-seed to the 7-seed, falling out of the playoff picture.
In short, while the Rams have assured themselves of not finishing 7-9 this season, 9-7 certainly still seems to be in play, and Frank Clark and Michael Bennett will look to help further the drive for 9-7 when they face off against tackles playing at less than perfect health.