After the Rams narrowly defeated his team in Week 5, Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman D.J. Fluker assessed the Rams defense.
“They haven’t seen a team that’s played physical,” Fluker said. “They want to be pass rushers.
“They haven’t seen a team to go out there and actually take it to them every single play.”
Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was apprised of the comments a few days later.
“They’ll see us again,” he said.
Five weeks later, the Rams and Seahawks will play Sunday at the Coliseum.
The Rams are 8-1 after Sunday’s 45-35 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The chance for a perfect season ended, but the Rams are still regarded as one of the Super Bowl favorites.
In games before their undoing in New Orleans, including their 33-31 victory over the Seahawks, the Rams showed they could give up a lot of points and still win.
The Rams clinched their victory at Seattle in early October after coach Sean McVay reversed a late fourth-quarter decision to punt and instead instructed quarterback Jared Goff to run for a first down.
“They did some different things against us that was a little bit different than what we had seen,” McVay said Monday of the Seahawks. “I haven’t gotten deep enough into it over the last four weeks to see if that’s something they’ve utilized on defense moving forward.”
Linebacker Bobby Wagner is the marquee player for a defense that is giving up only 19.5 points per game, which ranks fifth in the NFL. The Seahawks are seventh in total defense (333.3), sixth in pass defense (218.5) and 21st in rushing defense (114.8).
“We’ve figured out how we want to play, we know who we are,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said this week. “Now we’ve got to find our way to get the wins.”
The Seahawks are coming off a 25-17 loss to the Chargers that left them with a 4-4 record.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and running backs Chris Carson and Mike Davis lead a Seahawks offense that ranks third in the NFL in rushing, averaging 137.1 yards per game. But the Seahawks are 17th in scoring (23.5 points per game), 27th in passing (202.8 yards per game) and 28th in total offense (339.9).
In 2017, the Rams split with the Seahawks, losing at the Coliseum early in the season and then dominating and tilting the power in the NFC West in the game at CenturyLink Field.
In the first game between the teams this season, Rams linebacker Mark Barron made his season debut, receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp suffered first-half concussions, cornerback Marcus Peters struggled and interim kicker Cairo Santos bounced back from a miss to convert what proved to be a game-winning field goal.
Barron is fully entrenched, Cooks and Kupp are physically sound and kicker Greg Zuerlein is back. But Peters is coming off another struggling performance against the Saints.
JoJo Natson, signed by the Rams after Pro Bowl kick returner Pharoh Cooper suffered an ankle injury in the season opener, is averaging a league-best 14.9 yards per punt return.
Blake Countess is averaging 25 yards per kickoff return, which ranks ninth.
Cooper is eligible to return from injured reserve this week, but that does not guarantee he will be activated.
Cooper, receiver Mike Thomas (groin) and cornerback Aqib Talib (ankle) are on injured reserve. NFL rules allow for teams to recall only two players from injured reserve each season. McVay has said the Rams planned to use one of the recalls for Talib, who will be eligible in Week 12.
Even if Cooper is ready to come back, the Rams might wait a week or two in case a significant player, such as running back Todd Gurley, suffers an injury that could put him on injured reserve with enough time left in the season for a possible return for the playoffs.