Thursday Night Football Preview: Week 5 – Rams at Seahawks

Week 5 of the NFL regular season kicks off with a good one as the (3-1) Rams head to Seattle to take on the (2-2) Seahawks in a classic NFC West showdown that’s proven to be one of the highest stakes rivalries in the league in recent years. The NFL is a week-to-week league and a lot changed at the end of Week 4.

(-140) Los Angeles Rams @ (+120) Seattle Seahawks (+2.5, o/u 54.5)

Jalen Ramsey vs DK Metcalf has become must-see TV

The Hawks went into San Francisco last week as underdogs in a rivalry they have dominated for the last decade. They were sitting in last place in their division for the first time in I don’t know how long and it was seriously unfamiliar territory. Pete Carroll’s team had mustered only 13 second-half points in three games and were shut out by the Vikings in the second half of their matchup in Week 3. Not exactly panic mode, but there was certainly cause for concern. It’s hard to say if all of their concerns were addressed after a slow start vs the 49ers, but some timely scores off turnovers go a long way. After a 28-21 victory, the Seahawks left San Francisco with a key win that moved them into 3rd in the division and now have an opportunity to get to into 2nd with a win over Los Angeles.

The Rams, on the other hand, were on top of the world (or at least the NFL) after they beat Tom Brady and the Bucs in Week 3’s Sunday night game. I had my concerns that they were in for a letdown game against the Cardinals, but I still picked the Rams to win. I don’t want to take anything away from the Cards either. They showed up in LA ready to roll and they dominated the Rams and made them look more like the team that struggled with the Colts than the one that decidedly beat the defending champs. The Rams lost the turnover battle and never got going against the Cards’ defense, and they have had a short week to try and figure out what went wrong.

Matthew Stafford has been a good fit for the Rams so far

Rest assured the Hawks are going to try to replicate what Arizona did defensively and try to expose the holes that appeared in the Rams’ run defense. Seattle is top-10 in yards-per-carry and rushing TDs but RB Chris Carson is questionable. Whether or not he plays, it’ll probably be good to use a change of pace approach similar to what AZ did with Chase Edmonds and James Connor who combined for 170-yards and 2-TDs. The Hawks present some similar challenges with a mobile QB as well and maybe Russell Wilson doesn’t move quite like Kyler Murray, but he’s at his best when he’s able to utilize his legs as we saw against San Francisco.

Russell Wilson and Aaron Donald are very familiar foes

Besides the Carson injury, Former Ram-turned-Seahawk, tight end Gerald Everett is currently out due to Covid but could be back with one more negative test. I hope he gets cleared because I’d like to see him get a crack at his old team. Linebacker Benson Mayowa is also questionable but he got in full practices this week, so he’ll probably be good to go and Seattle is without WR Dee Eskridge who’s out due to concussion protocol. The Rams don’t have anything on the injury report.

It’s tough to predict exactly how this game is going to go because these two teams can play either style of game against one another and we saw that last season over three games. However, we’re probably headed towards a fairly high-scoring game. Neither defense has been impressive to this point. Seattle ranks last in overall defense and 21st in scoring, but that’s not surprising after last year and a stagnant offseason where they lost their best cornerback and a longtime linebacker. It is surprising to see the Rams not far behind them at 27th overall and 18th in scoring defense. Both teams are more offense than defense right now and have veteran QBs who know how to get the job done.

It could all come down to QB play

Both Wilson and Stafford are playing at a high level right now as well. Russ ranks 1st in QB-rating, tied for 5th in TD passes, and 4th in completion percentage with 0-interceptions. Stafford is 3rd in QB-rating, 2nd in TDs, 12th in comp-%, with 2-INTs. However, the number that stands out to me is sack-% where Stafford ranks 1st (2.2%) and Wilson ranks 26th (9.6%). That’s indicative of the O-line problems that have haunted Seattle continuously since trading Max Unger for Jimmy Graham in 2015. Both defenses are pretty close in terms of pressure metrics, so the edge will slide towards the team that protects their QB better and that’s the Rams.

The Rams won two of three games between these teams last year, including a 30-20 playoff win in Seattle, even though the Hawks won the division at 12-4. The Rams are 7-4 against the Hawks since moving back to LA, but only 3-3 on the road. Seattle has been a notoriously tough stadium to win in during the Carroll/Wilson era, including a 7-1 regular-season record at home last season. Los Angeles should be slightly favored and the money line moved from 1.5-points to 2.5-pts as of now. However, Seattle’s best odds come with a close game featuring some Russell Wilson heroics.

As much as I would like to pick Seattle in this game, I want them to win, but feel like Russ is going to be under pressure more often than not. It’s going to be a good one.

Pick: Rams | Vs Spread: Rams -2.5 | Under: 54.5 | Final: LAR 28 – SEA 24

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