Well there’s no guarantee we’ll see the Seattle Seahawks play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday given the Rams’ ongoing COVID outbreak, but for now we’ll act like the game is happening on Sunday. Seattle’s tiny postseason hopes rest on running the table, so to keep the dream alive they need to win at the Rams for the first time since 2017.
Last time Seattle played the Rams, they not only lost 26-17, but Russell Wilson’s finger got busted up courtesy of Aaron Donald. This was perhaps the turning point of the season and now the Seahawks find themselves last in the NFC West and the Rams are within touching distance of the division lead after Monday’s win over Arizona.
The latest odds from DraftKings Sportsbook have the Seahawks as 5.5-point road underdogs, which is noteworthy because the line opened at 7 points. Obviously the outbreak and the players impacted has shifted this line but Seattle also may not have Tyler Lockett because of his positive COVID test, so keep that in mind too.
I spoke with Evan Craig of Turf Show Times ahead of (maybe) Sunday’s showdown for this week’s 5 Qs and 5 As.
1.) Prior to the Jaguars game, the Rams dropped three straight and were looking out of sorts. What do you think were the root causes of the team’s midseason struggles?
I believe every championship-aspiring team like the Rams suffer through rough patches every now and then. Their problems, especially in losses to the 49ers and Packers, was that LA’s defense couldn’t get off the field due to being beaten badly in the trenches. Both SF and GB held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. The Rams defense got manhandled by the 49ers who rushed 44 times for 156 yards. The Rams defense registered only one sack against a Packers offensive line down numerous starters. Another issue was the loss of Robert Woods for the season. Woods tore his ACL prior to the 49ers game. That game marked OBJ’s debut and he was being force-fed a game plan he clearly wasn’t ready for. Instead of being broken in slowly, Woods’ injury forced Odell to become one of the offensive focal points and that threw the chemistry way off. That much was clear on the deep shot Stafford took in his direction which led to an interception.
2.) What is your assessment of how midseason acquisitions Odell Beckham Jr and Von Miller have fared in their first few games in Los Angeles?
Odell had a rough start in San Francisco but has been coming into his own as of late. He’s scored three touchdowns in the last three games and appears to be getting more and more confident in knowing the offense. Beckham has been a great leader off the field, helping fellow receiver Van Jefferson through a low point. For an apparent locker room cancer, I’d say he’s doing alright. Von Miller on the other hand hasn’t been the pass rusher LA thought they were getting when they practically traded the rest of their draft to acquire him. Miller hasn’t recorded a sack since moving to Hollywood and has one QB hit in four games. His presence requires the offense’s attention but at some point Von has to show up besides the final two minutes.
3.) The Rams’ COVID outbreak really puts a twist into this weekend’s game both for the Seahawks’ super tiny playoff chances and LA’s real chance of winning the NFC West. By sheer numbers this could be a difficult game but of the players currently on the COVID reserve list, which potential absences concern you the most?
Well, isn’t this the question of the day? Besides the obvious candidates in Ramsey and Tyler Higbee, I would have to say Jordan Fuller and Rob Havenstein. Both are starters and on the field often, especially Havenstein who has taken 99 percent of the offensive snaps this season. Those snaps will be incredibly difficult to replace even for a short time.
4.) Again, taking into account the outbreak, what have been some of the season-long weaknesses of the Rams defense that the Seahawks could exploit?
The most glaring weakness is that Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris has placed Jalen Ramsey in multiple positions as a do-it-all player. There’s no denying Ramsey can handle it being the All-Pro he is. However, this has led to terrible matchups involving other cornerbacks and linebackers who have to step in and take Ramsey’s typical role. This has been a recipe for disaster for a player like linebacker Troy Reeder (Editor’s note: Now on the COVID list) who has struggled in coverage when given the opportunities. The Rams’ major weakness was linebackers going into the season and it remains an issue. If the Seahawks can exploit these mismatches by targeting the middle of the field, they’ll stand a chance.
5.) Well I’ve used my 5 questions and not brought up Aaron Donald, because he’s inevitable and will sack Russell Wilson at least once. Hopefully he won’t injure him this time. Instead I’ll talk about Matthew Stafford. Obviously Stafford’s history with the Lions is him never winning a playoff game there, but Detroit seems eternally cursed. Based on what you’ve seen out of Stafford’s first year in LA, do you think he has what it takes to lead the Rams to a deep postseason run if not the Super Bowl itself?
First off, Stafford has to be forever grateful to get out of the NFL purgatory which laid waste to the careers of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. At this point, I’m in wait-and-see mode as to whether he can lead a deep postseason run. Based on what I’ve seen from him, particularly in performances against the Bucs and Monday night vs the Cardinals, the potential for greatness is there. I don’t see a Super Bowl run from the Rams this season if I’m being honest, but the league is so unpredictable this year that you never know. The media acts like if Stafford can’t lead them to the promised land in 2021, the trade goes to waste. Despite the losing streak, Stafford has played well enough to inspire confidence, but again, we’ll see.
Thanks to Evan for answering my questions! You can check our my answers to his questions over at TST when the post is up.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.