Rams (3-1) at Seattle (3-1)
When Rams have the ball
If the result had been different, and the mistakes not as glaring, quarterback Jared Goff might have been celebrated for passing for more than 500 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he had three passes intercepted and lost a fumble, miscues that were turned into Buccaneers touchdowns in a 55-40 defeat. Goff has passed for six touchdowns, with six interceptions. He remains in search of the efficiency that marked most of his last two seasons. Running back Todd Gurley got only five carries — and caught seven passes — against the Buccaneers as coach Sean McVay continued to limit Gurley’s touches. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks have benefited statistically from McVay’s new philosophy of limiting Gurley’s workload. All three receivers are on pace to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. But the run-pass balance that characterized the Rams offense in McVay’s first two seasons is skewed this season to the pass. Goff will face a remade Seahawks defense anchored by perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks added ends Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah to a defense that also features linebacker Mychal Kendricks and K.J. Wright. The secondary includes cornerbacks Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin, and safeties Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson.
When Seahawks have the ball
Quarterback Russell Wilson got a huge contract extension and it looks like a sound investment. The eighth-year pro has completed 73% of his passes, eight for touchdowns, with zero interceptions. Wilson also has rushed for two touchdowns in coach Pete Carroll’s run-first offense. Chris Carson rushed for 104 yards in 22 carries in last week’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Rashaad Penny is averaging five yards per carry, and C.J. Prosise rotates in. Receiver Tyler Lockett and tight end Will Dissly have been Wilson’s favorite targets, but DK Metcalf also is a threat. After getting shredded by Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, the Rams might welcome the challenge of controlling a rushing attack. Defensive linemen Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Sebastian Joseph-Day will face an improved Seahawks offensive line. Inside linebacker Bryce Hager suffered a shoulder injury against the Buccaneers and will not play. Rookie Troy Reeder played in Hager’s spot after the injury and could start. Safety Eric Weddle is the leading tackler for a unit that also might be without rotational safety Taylor Rapp, who suffered an ankle injury against the Buccaneers. Rapp will be a game-time decision.
When they kick
Rams punter Johnny Hekker, who played quarterback at Bothel High in Washington, has yet to throw a pass this season for the Rams. But he is always a threat. Hekker is averaging 46.3 yards per kick. Greg Zuerlein has made nine of 11 field-goal attempts. JoJo Natson averages 10.2 yards per punt return. Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has made two of three field-goal attempts. Michael Dickson averages 45.9 yards per punt. Lockett returns kickoff and punts.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams might be teetering after Goff’s turnover-plagued performance against the Buccaneers, but they have never lost consecutive regular-season games under McVay. Gurley has scored seven touchdowns in his last two games at CenturyLink Field. Perhaps this is the game McVay finally turns him loose.
RAMS 30, SEAHAWKS 27