Rams Vs Seahawks Part 3; Who Has The Edge?
If Marty McFly landed the DeLorean in your driveway in 2018 with the singular purpose of telling you that Vegas’ over/under total for the 2020 Rams vs. Seahawks playoff game was going to be 42.5, you would have laughed him all the way back to the Hill Valley.
Time-travel movies always bring up more questions than answers. So using this clumsy analogy to illustrate a point is par for the course when it comes to that genre. So don’t overthink it.
The point is, these teams are supposed to be and have been two of the recent offensive powerhouses in the NFL and the odds-makers have them in a paltry footrace to who can get to 22 points. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, but it’s not without good reason.
Over the past two games, the Rams offense has, technically, scored zero points if you give field goals to the special teams. They have the second-fewest points per game of any playoff team. They are tied at 23.2 ppg with the Bears! And of course, there is a good chance that John Wolford will helm the offense. A reminder to the newly minted Wolfites, the Rams offense scored zero touchdowns last week.
The Seahawks were looking great early in the season, but haven’t looked like themselves in weeks, offensively. They are eighth in the league in points per game, with 28.7. But they have only scored more than 28 points once in almost two months and that was against the Jets.
“2018 you” would never have thought that this game was going to be an old-school defensive bruiser of a game. But, with how these two defenses have been playing, that is exactly what you can expect.
Of course, the two played just two weeks ago. The game was closer than what the scoreboard reflected. Neither team moved the ball with any ease and both QBs sustained a significant amount of pressure. Russell Wilson was able to make enough plays to get the win, but the Rams defense played a phenomenal game.
They needed more points from the offense, but could only muster three field goals. Jared Goff’s dislocated thumb probably had something to do with the low point total and certainly didn’t help them in their comeback effort in the fourth quarter. Goff played every snap but could be seen wincing on the sidelines. He is still recovering from that injury. He is questionable for Rams vs Seahawks Part 3.
Not only that, but Sean McVay struggled. He falters when playing from behind and has made some very un-McVay play calls in those situations. On their first possession of the second half, McVay put together a great drive.
Seattle had just scored the game’s first touchdown going ahead 13-6 and McVay was ready to answer back. The Rams were able to get down to the Seattle 12 with a few big plays. But once he was in prime scoring position McVay called six running plays in a row and failed to pick up any points.
Looking ahead to Rams vs Seahawks Part 3, it’s hard to see how the Rams will get significantly more points on the board, especially without their franchise QB. Early in the year, the Rams running attack was the talk of the NFL, but that has taken a sharp decline in the latter half of the season.
In the first eight weeks, the Rams rushes were 57% successful, they have only been 43% effective since week 8. All three backs have been banged up and defenses have come more prepared to stop the rush.
In week 17, John Wolford gave the running game a jolt. He was successful on 5 of 6 of his runs, but Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown were virtually ineffective. They only found success on 5 of their 24 runs and the previous week against Seattle, the Rams weren’t much better. They only managed 28% of successful runs. Compare that to the first meeting in week 10. The Rams runners were successful on 59% of their touches.
The lack of a successful running game leads to a convergence of the bad tendencies of McVay and Goff. When the running game doesn’t work, McVay relies on Goff. When this happens smart defenses pick up on it and send more pressure on Goff, which makes Goff make bad decisions and bad passes. They find themselves behind on the scoreboard, which causes McVay to make bad play calls, vacillating between forcing Goff to make hard passes and not trusting Goff to make a play. This is what mathematicians call the Rams Vortex of bad losses.
Seattle is good against the run. They rank fourth in the league in run success rate, but in the first game, Los Angeles was able to move the ball on the ground against them. John Wolford’s legs do give the Rams something they didn’t have in week 16. Jared Goff was successful on one of seven rushing attempts in that game. One particular failure came on third down and Goff decided to slide short of the first down, rather than dive for the first down. Wolford will make that play and extend the drive. That said, if Goff is ready to play the Rams should play him. Arizona’s defense isn’t nearly as good as Seattle’s. A healthy Goff is still the Rams’ best path to victory.
The biggest help in putting more points on the board will be protecting whoever is under center this weekend. And the Rams are expecting that the anchor to their offensive line will be back on the field. Andrew Whitworth should make a huge impact on how this unit moves the ball.
Goff’s pressure rate with Whitworth in the lineup is 15.8%. In the eight games Whitworth has missed, the QB pressure rate has been 23% and in the last game against Seattle, Goff was under pressure 32.7% of dropbacks. Whitworth’s presence will be a tide that raises all boats for the offense. He will be lined up against his former Bengals teammate Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap has been key in turning around the Seattle defense. Despite only playing eight games for the Seahawks he is 4th on the team in sacks and only one QB hit behind Jamal Adams and Jarran Reed.
Cooper Kupp will also be returning to action in Part 3. He was out last week having been placed on the COVID/reserve list. It’s unclear if he had COVID or was deemed a close contact. Which means he may or may not be 100%. The virus affects different people differently, but having him suited up will help the team, regardless of his condition. He is the team’s leading receiver and has played well in both games against the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have a distinct edge on offense. This is to say they know who they are starting at QB and that that QB can win any game he is in. Wilson will have his work cut out for him, but as was seen in week 16, Wilson will find a way to squeak by if he’s given any room to breathe.
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So once again, the Rams defense is going to have to bail this team out. They will not only have to play a great game, but they will have to make big plays and put some points on the board. Strip sacks, peanut punches, pick-sixes, maybe even another safety. This defense will have to, not only, contain Seattle, they will need a complete shutdown of this offense.
Seattle’s offense has struggled as of late because they have played some good defenses that can stuff the run, even with a light box. Brandon Staley has made quite the name for himself playing two high safeties and that has been Wilson’s Achilles heel. He struggles when he can’t get receivers open downfield. Also, Jalen Ramsey has had D.K. Metcalf on lockdown this season. This worked well for most of the week 16 game, but Russell got cookin’ and did enough to seal the win. So the defense will have to make those game-changing plays to shut him down.
The difference between Part 1 and Part 2 was the turnover differential. In week 10 the Rams picked Wilson off twice and recovered a fumble from a low snap. In the next game, the Rams created no turnovers. With teams as evenly matched as these two, the game will be swung on who creates mistakes and takes advantage of those mistakes.
The Rams have done a bad job at taking care of the football. They have turned the ball over 25 times this season. Washington is the only playoff team with more this season (27). The team that wins this battle will be the team that moves onto the next round.
Seattle only has 18 turnovers on the year, but Russell Wilson has thrown 13 interceptions, the same as Jared Goff. Only Drew Lock and Carson Wentz have more. In all three games that Wilson has thrown more than one interception, Seattle has lost.
The teams are in a dead heat in takeaways, both teams have scooped 8 fumbles and snagged 14 INTs.
LA’s defense has a huge edge in this game. They are better in every relevant statistical measure. Period. Pencils down. They will keep this game close and are a threat to turn the tide in the game. They put up half of the team’s points against Arizona, but who is Chris Streveler, again? That is to say, he is not Russell Wilson. But it will come down to stifling him, no small task even for the best defense in the league.
Back to the oddsmakers. Vegas has Seattle -3.5 and they usually spot the home team a few points, making this game too close to call from their perspective. Not many pundits are giving LA much of a shot because the Rams could not put points on the board the last two weeks. And that is a valid point. John Wolford was fun, but he is a backup QB. If he starts, his second start ever is also his first playoff game ever. That doesn’t often turn out good.
Who has the edge in Rams vs Seahawks Part 3? You have to give the edge to the QB with a track record of winning and winning tight games. It will be a close game, but Seattle has the edge heading into the game.
Why didn’t you ask McFly who won the game! That would have made writing this article much easier.