Rams (4-0) at Seattle (2-2)
When Rams have the ball
Rams quarterback Jared Goff heads to the Northwest coming off a career-best five-touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings — and bearing the designation as the NFC offensive player of the month. That’s not good news for a Seahawks defense that has been ravaged by the injuries — including a season-ending broken leg suffered by safety Earl Thomas and knee injury suffered by linebacker K.J. Wright — and lost linebacker Mychal Kendricks to an NFL suspension. Tedric Thompson is expected to start in Thomas’ place. Rams receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks each amassed more than 100 yards receiving last week against the Vikings, and they did it while making catches on short, mid-range and long routes. Not an enviable assignment for Seahawks cornerbacks Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin. The Seahawks still have perennial Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner, but Rams coach Sean McVay might run him and other linebackers ragged by deploying running back Todd Gurley on screen passes and other routes. The Rams offensive line has surrendered a league-low five sacks.
When Seahawks have the ball
Russell Wilson won a Super Bowl, almost won another and remains one of the NFL’s most elusive quarterbacks, but he has not torched the Rams recently. In Seahawks victories at the Coliseum in 2016 and 2017, the Rams kept him under control. And last season, they sacked him seven times in their NFC West-tilting victory. Wilson appears to have something he has not enjoyed in recent seasons — a dependable rushing attack. Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny have performed well. Davis ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, but it will be difficult to run against a Rams defensive front that features Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. The question is whether Wilson can buy enough time to find receivers Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin, David Moore and Brandon Marshall. Rams cornerback Sam Shields, playing in place of injured Aqib Talib, struggled at times last week against the Vikings. Cornerback Marcus Peters also was not at his best while playing four days after suffering a calf strain. The Rams could get a lift if linebacker Mark Barron overcomes an Achilles issue and plays for the first time.
When they kick
Last season in Seattle, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein struggled to finish the game and then underwent season-ending back surgery. He came back strong this season but suffered a groin injury that will keep him sidelined for the third game in a row. The Rams signed veteran Cairo Santos to replace inconsistent Sam Ficken and bridge the gap until Zuerlein returns. Kick returner JoJo Natson sat out last week because of a broken left hand but he might play against the Seahawks. After 17 seasons with the Oakland Raiders, kicker Sebastian Janikowski has made five of eight field-goal attempts for the Seahawks.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams delivered a message last season in Seattle, shifting the balance of power in the NFC West. Now they are playing like a Super Bowl favorite. CenturyLink Field is a noisy, tough place to play, but barring injuries or weather that throws them off their game, the Rams could again rout the depleted Seahawks.
RAMS 34, SEAHAWKS 17