Breaking down how the Rams (7-5) and the Seattle Seahawks (10-2) match up heading into Sunday night’s game at the Coliseum:
When Rams have the ball
The Rams need a repeat of last Sunday’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals when the offense finally resembled the unit that ranked among the NFL’s most dynamic and productive the previous two seasons. Coach Sean McVay put the ball in running back Todd Gurley’s hands 19 times and the 2017 NFL offensive player of the year responded with 95 yards and a touchdown. That helped open the play-action game for quarterback Jared Goff, who broke out of a funk, made plays in and out of the pocket and passed for 424 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp appear to have recaptured the synchronicity that sparked the passing game in 2018. With tight end Gerald Everett sidelined for a second consecutive game because of a knee injury, Tyler Higbee could again be a preferred target after enjoying a career-best performance against the Cardinals. The Seahawks defense is anchored by linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, who are in their eighth and ninth seasons, respectively. The Seahawks lead the NFL with 16 forced fumbles. Cornerback Tre Flowers has three of 11 interceptions for a team that ranks third in turnover margin. Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney and safety Quandre Diggs, a trade deadline acquisition from the Detroit Lions, are among other key players.
When Seahawks have the ball
Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens is not the only quarterback making a serious run for the NFL most valuable player award. Russell Wilson is completing 67% of his passes, 26 for touchdowns, with only four interceptions. He also has rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson passed for four touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 30-29 victory over the Rams in October. Running back Chris Carson has rushed for 981 yards and five touchdowns, and also has two touchdown catches for an offense that ranks third in the NFL in rushing. Rashaad Penny has rushed for three touchdowns. Receiver Tyler Lockett has been Wilson’s favorite target. He has 63 catches, six for touchdowns, including one on a laser-like pass from Wilson in tight coverage against the Rams. Receiver DK Metcalf caught a 40-yard touchdown pass in that game, and Wilson also has David Moore and Josh Gordon as potential weapons. Wilson faces a Rams defense that has been reconfigured since the first game between the teams this season. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters were traded, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey added to a unit that rebounded from a thrashing by the Ravens with a near-shutout against the Arizona Cardinals. Rookie safety Taylor Rapp returned an interception for a touchdown against the Cardinals.
When they kick
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a potential game-winning field-goal attempt against the Seahawks in October. His 44-yard attempt with 15 seconds left missed wide right. Zuerlein has made 22 of 28 attempts. Rams kick returner JoJo Natson is on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury so rookie Darrell Henderson will return kickoffs, and rookie Nsimba Webster punts. Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has made 18 of 23 field-goal attempts. Lockett returns punts and kickoffs.
Gary Klein’s prediction
The Rams are playing for their playoff lives, the Seahawks for the NFC West title and possible home-field advantage. In a series that has featured close games in 2018 and 2019, the Rams come out on top.