The NFC West has been one of the most competitive and winningest divisions across the NFL. Despite some very poor performances during Week 9, the division has the second-most wins (20) behind an arguably less loaded AFC North (with 21 wins) and poised for an exciting week of matchups highlighted by the Seattle Seahawks facing the Los Angeles Rams for the first time in SoFi Stadium.
The exciting and efficient Seahawks offense led by MVP frontrunner, quarterback Russell Wilson, will be facing a defense with Defensive Player of the Year favorite, defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The usual unstoppable force that is Wilson was halted in his tracks last week despite a 390-yard, two-touchdown performance. The shaky Rams, who have been largely powered by their defense, enjoyed their bye after splitting their last two games.
This contest will be a turning point for either Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff or Seattle’s defense. The winner gets first (or ties for first) in their division, and there’s a potential for a three-way tie if the Rams win and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Buffalo Bills. If Seattle wins, it’ll give the team a little more breathing room with a very small margin for error.
But what will it take?
The Seahawks are playing some of the worst defense we’ve seen from a modern-day franchise, and coming from a team that once dominated its opponents on that side of the ball, it’s more than concerning. Seattle can’t really stop anyone, and it’s on pace to be the worst defense (in terms of yards allowed) in NFL history. The Seahawks have the worst total defense, allowing 455.8 yards per game, and the worst pass defense, giving up 362.1 yards per game. They’ve also allowed the third-most points (30.4) of any team in the league.
Seattle has had some very narrow wins against better teams, and while Los Angeles has problems of its own, it presents yet another challenge for this defense. Three quarterbacks have thrown for more than 400 yards against the Seahawks, which included Josh Allen’s 415-yard day in the 44-34 defeat. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap has already made an impact on Seattle’s nearly non-existent pass rush and the return of strong safety Jamal Adams resulted in 1.5 sacks and a season-best seven sacks against Buffalo on Sunday.
It’s the perfect opportunity for Goff to show he is, in fact, the quarterback he was thought to be when penning a lucrative four-year, $134 million deal with a record $110 million guaranteed. He’ll look to his top two targets, wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. In the Rams’ most recent game, a 28-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 8, Kupp was targeted 21 times. Los Angeles can take advantage of this, and it needs to. For how bad Seattle’s defense is, it’ll still go toe-to-toe with any opponent with Wilson under center.
The Rams defense will present their own challenge to this pass-happy offense. They have allowed the second-fewest points (19), yards (291.9), and passing yards (197.9). Los Angeles’ defense has been so good and so consistent, it has allowed just one touchdown during an opponent’s opening drive and two touchdowns in the second half of all games. Wilson, who for whatever obnoxious reason, relishes in late-game scores but moving the ball downfield against this team will be difficult for even one of the best passers. The Rams have allowed only nine passing touchdowns, which is the fewest in the league, and since they let Allen pass for 311 yards in a Week 3 loss, no quarterback has thrown for more than 270 yards.
While the Seahawks have let Wilson take control earlier and more often, they could revert back to their run-first ways in an effort to evade the Rams’ pass rush. But even then, they’re up against one of the top run defenses. Los Angeles has a top-five run defense, allowing 95 yards per game; it’s just a yard more than what Seattle has allowed (94). The Seahawks don’t have a fear-inducing rushing attack and Wilson has struggled with ball security lately which would lead to them relying more on the pass.
There are obvious reasons why this will be a marquee matchup, but for two teams struggling to find their identity in completely different aspects of the game, it’ll be telling. Can the innovative, young coach really transform the Rams’ offense and build them up to be even an ounce of what we saw during their Super Bowl season? Or will the old, seemingly less adaptable coach do enough to keep his perennial quarterback from carrying the Seahawks once again? The winner won’t come away with the division yet, it’s still too close to call. But the winner will be in much better shape with at least four divisional games left.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022