Rams vs. Seahawks: Will Sean McVay pick Jared Goff or John Wolford to start?
When Rams have the ball: Coach Sean McVay might not announce who will start at quarterback until just before the game. Jared Goff suffered a broken thumb against the Seahawks on Dec. 27 and had surgery the next day with the aim of returning for the playoffs. Goff has passed for 20 touchdowns, with 13 interceptions. John Wolford started in place of Goff in the season finale against the Cardinals. His first pass was intercepted, but thereafter he played without error and rushed for a team-best 56 yards. Neither Goff nor Wolford led the Rams to a touchdown in the last two games. Rookie running back Cam Akers returned from a high-ankle sprain against the Cardinals but did not show the burst he exhibited before the injury. He also fumbled at the goal line. Malcolm Brown has rushed for a team-best five touchdowns. Cooper Kupp, who has a team-best 92 receptions, will play after sitting out against the Cardinals because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth also could play for the first time since suffering a knee injury on Nov. 15 against the Seahawks. All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks defense. Safety Jamal Adams has a team-best 9½ sacks. Tackle Jarran Reed, who has 6½ sacks, is questionable.
When Seahawks have the ball: Quarterback Russell Wilson, who twice led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, has passed for 40 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. In two games against the Rams this season, he has passed for a touchdown, with two interceptions. Running backs Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and Rashaad Penny lead a solid rushing attack. The Rams — specifically All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey — held Pro Bowl receiver DK Metcalf largely in check, limiting him to two receptions in a Nov. 15 victory and six catches in the December defeat. Ramsey is prepared for the Seahawks to move around Metcalf, as offensive Brian Schottenheimer did against the Rams two weeks ago. But Wilson has other options, including Tyler Lockett, who has a team-best 100 catches and, like Metcalf, 10 touchdowns. David Moore is not as heralded but has burned the Rams in each of the last two seasons. Tight ends Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister and Greg Olsen also are targets. Tackle Aaron Donald, a unanimous All-Pro, has 13½ sacks for the Rams. Tackle Michael Brockers was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and will play. Edge rusher Leonard Floyd has a career-best 10½ sacks. Cornerback Troy Hill has intercepted three passes, returning two for touchdowns. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown.
When they kick: In the last game between the teams, kicker Matt Gay scored all the Rams’ points with three field goals. He has made 14 of 16 field-goal attempts. Punter Johnny Hekker could play a huge role in a game expected to be a defensive battle heavily influenced by field position. Seahawks kicker Jason Myers has made all 24 of his field-goal attempts. Michael Dickson has averaged 49.6 yards per punt.
Gary Klein’s prediction: The Rams’ quarterback situation is an issue regardless of whether Goff plays less than two weeks after surgery, or Wolford starts his first playoff game. The Rams have struggled to score touchdowns, which does not bode well.
SEAHAWKS 23, RAMS 20
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