Rams (8-1) vs. Seattle (4-4)
When Rams have the ball
The New Orleans Saints knocked the Rams from their perch as the NFL’s only unbeaten team, but the Rams remain the league’s most productive offense. Cooper Kupp returned from a knee injury in Week 9, so quarterback Jared Goff once again has his full complement of receivers. Kupp and Brandin Cooks caught touchdown passes against the Saints, Robert Woods picked up several first downs and Goff also utilized tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. Running back Todd Gurley is the NFL’s leading rusher, averaging 96.4 yards. That bodes well against a Seahawks defense that ranks 21st against the run. The Seahawks are not the “Legion of Boom” defense of recent memory, but linebacker Bobby Wagner leads a unit that is tough and physical. In the Rams’ 33-31 Week 5 victory at Seattle, Cooks and Kupp suffered first-half concussions. Seahawks end Frank Clark, who intercepted a pass in that game, has a team-leading 71/2 sacks. Tackle Jarran Reed has five. Linebacker K.J. Wright did not play in the Oct. 7 game because he was recovering from a knee injury, but he returned in Week 8. He is listed as questionable for Sunday but is expected to play and try to slow Gurley’s run to a possible MVP award.
When Seahawks have the ball
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that his team had found its identity as a run-oriented offense but that it must find a way to win close games. With running backs Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks rank third in the NFL in yards rushing. Carson rushed for 116 yards against the Rams in Week 5, but he is questionable for Sunday because of a hip injury. Davis ran for 68 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. The Seahawks, however, mainly rely on quarterback Russell Wilson. The seventh-year pro passed for three touchdowns against the Rams in October, exposing cornerback Marcus Peters for two touchdowns and other completions. Receiver Tyler Lockett has a team-best 28 catches, six for touchdowns. David Moore has four touchdown catches. The Rams’ defense is coming off its worst performance in coach Sean McVay’s and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 1 1/2 seasons. The Rams gave up 45 points and nearly 500 yards against the Saints. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has a league-best 10 sacks but he was unable to get to Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Wilson is more mobile. New edge rusher Dante Fowler got acclimated against the Saints and should be more productive with a game of experience in Phillips’ system.
When they kick
Greg Zuerlein did not play in Week 5 against the Seahawks because he was recovering from a groin injury. He has made 11 of 13 attempts, including one from 56 yards against the Saints. Rams punt returner JoJo Natson leads the NFL, averaging 14.9 yards per return. Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski has made nine of 13 field-goal attempts. Lockett averages 24 yards per kickoff return and nearly six yards per punt return.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams have not lost consecutive regular-season games under McVay, and they won’t start now. The Rams defense will be motivated to rebound from its poor performance against the much more potent Saints.