The Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks meet in the second game of Super Wild Card weekend, slated for Saturday afternoon.
The 12-4 Seahawks come into this matchup fresh off of being crowned NFC West champions for the first time since 2016, with the Rams finishing as the runner-up with a record of 10-6. As divisional rivals, these teams play each other twice every regular season and this year, the teams split games. The Rams won a week 10 matchup by a score of 23-16 in Los Angeles, while the Seahawks emerged victorious by a score of 20-9 in Seattle in week 16.
With the divisional title that the Seahawks clinched comes home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs, so Los Angeles will be traveling into hostile territory for this contest.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Team News
According to the Seahawks, the team is fully injury-free headed into this matchup with their entire 53-man roster expected to be available. This is not only a testament to the competence of their training staff but an example of how a diligent approach to COVID-19 precautions can save a team from the despair of an ill-timed outbreak.
The Seahawks have shown flashes of brilliance this season on the offensive side of the ball, with Russell Wilson to DK Metcalf being a connection that you can find in a highlight reel after just about any game on Seattle's schedule. Metcalf set a franchise record for receiving yards with 1,303, to go along with 10 touchdowns which equate to a quarter of Wilson's 40 passing touchdowns on the season.
Metcalf is the type of player who will routinely draw double coverages from a defense, but that's a dangerous strategy with a player like Tyler Lockett lined up at receiver on the other side of the formation. Lockett is capable of using his speed to gain separation and turn short routes into long touchdowns, so leaving him on the far side of the formation with no safety help is hardly a better option than assigning symmetrical coverages to both receivers and hoping for the best.
Defensively, the Seahawks are anchored by team captain Bobby Wagner at inside linebacker. Wagner is responsible for 138 combined tackles this year, and his 81 solo tackles are only five fewer than the next leading tackler's number of combined tackles. Wagner has help in the secondary, as CB Shaquille Griffin and FS Quandre Diggs have combined for 8 interceptions on the year.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams will come into Seattle with their defense leading the charge, as the defensive unit, anchored by Aaron Donald has proven to be the most solid unit on the team for Los Angeles all season long. Wilson, Lockett, Metcalf and company are formidable opponents, but the Rams have the benefit of not only being familiar with the Seahawks and their schemes, but having a talented enough defense to keep things competitive.
Whether or not the offense is able to contribute to the effort is still undetermined. Rams QB Jared Goff has been dealing with a thumb injury. Goff underwent surgery to repair the broken right thumb and his backup, John Wolford, made his first NFL start in the Rams' week 17 throwing for 231 yards and an interception with 21 completions out of his 38 attempts. If Goff is back to 100 percent, which seems unlikely, this game could turn into an offensive explosion, but if Wolford has to take the field for the second time in his career under this much pressure, this game could get out of hand in a hurry.
For this matchup, both teams are coming into the game relatively healthy in terms of depth, though Los Angeles has some questions at key positions. Elsewhere on the Rams' injury report, offensive lineman David Edwards and linebacker Micah Kizer are listed as questionable, with an ankle injury and a knee injury respectively. It should be a physical game, but hopefully both teams are able to leave the matchup as healthy as they entered. One team will get a chance to rest up over the offseason, but the winner will need to be ready to recharge and get back on the field in a week's time.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Predictions
The Rams' chances at keeping this game close into the 4th quarter and having a chance to win it late directly hinge on Jared Goff's availability and effectiveness. Goff is a competitor, so it is difficult to see him sitting out such a pivotal matchup, but if his thumb is not fully healed yet, or worse, if he sustains a further injury, things could go south for the Rams very quickly. Los Angeles has the benefit of having an elite defense on their side, but the defense can only stay fresh for so long if the offense is unable to sustain drives.
Divisional rivalries like Rams-Seahawks are usually close contests rife with brutal physicality, so while odds are that Goff will suit up and start the matchup, the Seattle defense will apply pressure to the young quarterback and expose his diminished capacity. Goff will struggle with his injury and the Rams will have difficulty finding the endzone, leading to a game that is close at halftime and features a widening gap in the second half. Seattle will take the victory by a score of 34-21 and advance into the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. It should be the continuation of some positive momentum for this Seahawks squad.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks broadcast info
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks is set to kick off from Seattle, Washington on Saturday, January 8th at 4:40 pm Eastern Standard Time on FOX. The game will be commentated by the usual pair of broadcasters FOX uses for primetime matchups, Joe Buck, and legendary former Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman.