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Losing to Rams: Not surprising, not a big deal

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Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks lost to the LA Rams on Sunday night and that’s ... totally fine. The fact that the Seahawks actually put themselves in position this season to be disappointed by the loss — and still hold a two game lead over the Rams with three games to go — is a key takeaway from the game even if it’s not going to be the top story.

Heading into the 2019 season, almost every prediction out there had the Rams winning the division. A lot of people had Seattle as a wild card, but few thought the division would be close. Even fewer had the San Francisco 49ers as a playoff team, let alone in first place in the home stretch, which is yet another reason why predictions are useless.

Unless you want to use them to gain perspective on expectations vs reality.

The reality of the Seahawks rivalry with LA is that Pete Carroll has been pretty well dominated since the selection of Aaron Donald in 2014. In the eight games prior to that, Carroll had gone 6-2 vs the Rams, including the pivotal Week 17 matchup in 2010 that setup the 7-9 Beastquake. LA remained bad from 2014-2016 under Jeff Fisher, but not against Seattle:

The Rams split the series in 2014 and 2016, but swept the Seahawks in 2015. That’s a 4-2 record against the Seahawks at a time that they went 6-10, 7-9, and 4-12. Since Sean McVay arrived in 2017, LA is again 4-2 in the series following their 28-12 win on Sunday.

That makes Donald 8-4 against the Seahawks, even despite the fact that Russell Wilson had thrown 10 touchdowns against 0 interceptions in the three games prior to Sunday. But behind backup center Joey Hunt and an offensive line that mostly looked like backup centers, Donald had 1.5 sacks and four QB hits, Samson Ebukam had two sacks and two QB hits, and Dante Fowler had 1.5 sacks and three QB hits.

Wilson, like any QB, will struggle more under duress than not under duress, but especially so when his receivers won’t let him open any presents before Christmas.

But this is not a game that requires excuses.

Despite what I might say about McVay’s overall track record and if it is overrated, or that Jared Goff was a bad quarterback in disguise for the last two years, the Rams are 8-5, coming off of an NFC Championship, and other than a complete lack of execution vs the Baltimore Ravens, have been a defensive monster in at least seven of their last eight games. They also didn’t have to travel to Seattle for this one.

LA allowed zero offensive touchdowns to the Seahawks, just one 15-yard scramble touchdown to Kyler Murray the week before, one to the Bears offense two weeks before that, one to the Steelers offense the week before that, one to the Bengals offense the week before that, and one to the Falcons offense the week before that. Seattle was a strange missed target to Malik Turner away from their one touchdown last night, though that still wouldn’t be enough.

And I think that’s okay.

The Seahawks are 10-3 and go on the road in Week 15 to face the worst run defense in the NFL. If they can’t execute a run-first gameplan against the Carolina Panthers, who are 32nd in yards per carry allowed and have given up 24 rushing touchdowns in 13 games, then that would be a lot more concerning than a road loss to the Rams. If they don’t have answers for Kyle Allen and Carolina’s passing offense, that would be cause for more worry than against a passing offense that was top-3 a year ago.

Seattle then goes back home to host the Arizona Cardinals, owners of the worst pass defense in the league this season. If Wilson can’t have a better game at home against a team that has given up 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions, that may force more philosophical changes than going against Donald, Fowler, and Jalen Ramsey. If they can’t beat a team currently on a six-game losing streak, that might strike a more serious tone than losing to one that has won five of their last seven.

I’ll stick to my previously held thought that I do not have a ton of faith in a Rams team led by Goff being consistently great, but holding a 32-13 record under McVay and going 8-4 against Seattle with Donald tells me that even if there is shame in getting dominated by a division opponent, there isn’t surprise. That’s something that they had to fix before the 2019 season began and it’s something they’ll need to focus on again after it’s over.

That’s as clear now as it was on Sunday morning. Just as it is that the Seahawks are still 98% to make the playoffs.

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