8:20 PM EST, FOX – Seahawks -1.5, Over/Under: 49
Division Rivals clash in a crucial midweek matchup as the Seattle Seahawks play host to the Los Angeles Rams, from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. After opening up their 2019 account with three consecutive victories, the Rams (3-1, T-2nd in NFC West) were in for a rude awakening last Sunday, when they were absolutely shredded in a 40-55 defeat at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It certainly didn’t appear that Los Angeles was prepared for what the visiting side had brought to the table, for the hosts fell behind 21-0 midway through the Second Quarter. Indeed, Sean McVay’s charges would rally back on numerous occasions, cutting the deficit 20-28 at one point in the third frame, and 40-45 later in the final stanza. However, the home side simply couldn’t keep their opponent from exploding for big plays, as one of their former employees, Defensive Tackle, Ndamukong Suh, clinched the game with a 37-Yard Touchdown via Fumble Recovery of Rams’ Quarterback, Jared Goff (64.2%, 1,254 YDS, 6.59 NY/A, 6 TD, 6 INT, 38.7 QBR), who was sacked on the final drive. While Defensive Coordinator, Wade Phillips, saw his unit get blown away to the tune of 464 Total Yards on Twenty-Seven First Downs, including 385 Passing Yards and 8-of-13 on Third Down, this was a case in which the Offense simply couldn’t get out of their own despite moving the football up and down the field at will against the Bucs. The Rams racked up a staggering 518 Total Yards on Thirty-Six First Downs, including a career-high 517 Passing Yards from Goff, who needed a whopping Sixty-Five Attempts to do so (he completed 45), but nonetheless continued his reckless start to the campaign, committing Four Turnovers on the day, including Three Interceptions. Through four games, the fourth-year Signal-Caller, whom the club signed to a hefty $134 Million Contract extension in the Summer, has thrown a league-high Six Interceptions, which is exactly half as many as he threw last season. With that said, their problems over the weekend ran deeper than their Quarterback, for McVay was forced to abandon the Run altogether after falling behind so early, with his troops rushing for a paltry Twenty-Eight Yards on Eleven Carries. This led to a lack of continuity offensively, converting on just 4-of-12 Third and Fourth Down opportunities, while the team as a whole was bogged down by an embarrassing Thirteen Penalties for a loss of 106 Yards. When you take into account the Turnovers, Penalties, and unbalanced attack, it’s remarkable that they managed to put up as many points as they did. Needless to say, this leaves the reigning NFC Champions with a lot to work without a lot of time to do so. McVay would no doubt prefer to see Goff cut down on the Turnovers, and a way to do it would be to rediscover the Running Game, which has long been the catalyst to success for Los Angeles. That’s easier said than done though, for this facet of their attack has been frequently absent thus far in 2019; after averaging 122.1 and 139.4 Rushing yards per Game in 2017 and 2018, the Rams have slumped to just 99.8 Yards per Game (22nd Overall) this season, which has a lot do with how they’re utilizing their Pro-Bowl Tailback, Todd Gurley (49 CAR, 219 YDS, 4.5 Y/C, 3 TD). Despite accounting for Forty Total Touchdowns over the past two seasons, the former Offensive Player of the Year has seen his touches decrease significantly, after being diagnosed with arthritis in his knee, which infamously hobbled the 25-Year Old down the stretch during the team’s run to Super Bowl LIII. Malcolm Brown (25 CAR, 111 YDS, 4.4 Y/C, 2 TD) was retained in the Offseason as an insurance policy for Gurley, with the two Tailbacks operating within a tandem setup, so that the former doesn’t get worn down in the latter stages of the term. And speaking of getting worn down, Los Angeles did not emerge from their meeting with Tampa Bay unscathed, with a number of Starters looking Questionable at best for this quick turnaround at Seattle; after returning an Interception Sixty-Seven Yards for a Touchdown, Cornerback, Marcus Peters (8 TKL, 1 INT, 1 TD, 3 PD), was laid out in the End Zone with a concussion, while Linebacker Bryce Hager (10 TKL) suffered an injured shoulder in the First Half, with Rookie Safety, Taylor Rapp (19 TKL, 2 PD) exiting the action after spraining his ankle in the Third Quarter.
Meanwhile, after living rather dangerously through the first three weeks of the season, the Seahawks (3-1, T-2nd in NFC West) captured a convincing victory, even if it was against one of the league’s bottom-feeders. With their first three outings being decided by six points or less, Sunday’s 27-10 win at the Arizona Cardinals was a welcome sign for Seattle, who look to be operating in that proverbial gray area between being a good team and being a contender. Though the teams were nearly identical in terms of offensive production, including 21-20 in First Downs, 340-321 in Total Yards, and 4-of-10 in comparison to 3-of-9 on Third Down, the difference between them was that visiting side ultimately found a way to punctuate their drives with a Touchdown, while the hosts routinely imploded when in possession. Pete Carroll’s charges really got after Rookie Quarterback, Kyler Murray, keeping him largely contained in the Pocket, despite conceding a late 9-Yard Rushing Touchdown, where he completed 22-of-32 Passes for 241 Yards, sacked four times for a loss of Thirty-Five Yards, and threw an Interception, which was promptly returned by Defensive End, Jadeveon Clowney (6 TKL, 1 TFL, 1 QBH, 1.0 SK, 1 INT, 1 TD, 3 PD), Twenty-Seven yards for a score midway through the First Quarter. The one-handed snare was the first of Clowney’s career, and the third time he’s found the End Zone. Acquired shortly before the beginning of the Regular Season in a bizarre deal with the Houston Texans that cost them bit pieces and a 2020 Third Round Pick, the former No. One Overall Pick has begun to acclimate himself quite well in the Pacific Northwest, anchoring a Defensive Line that only figures to get better once Jarran Page returns from suspension following Week Six. Offensively, the Seahawks stuck to their formula, dominating Time of Possession via the Run, led by Chris Carson (67 CAR, 262 YDS, 3.9 Y/C, 1 TD), who amassed 104 Yards on Twenty-Two Carries, with Russell Wilson (72.9%, 1,141 YDS, 7.34 NY/A, 8 TD, 0 INT, 75.6 QBR) buying his Receivers time to get downfield. The five-time Pro Bowl Quarterback spread the wealth, hitting Will Dissly (19 REC, 181 YDS, 9.5 Y/R, 4 TD) for Seven Receptions Fifty-Seven Yards and a Touchdown, while Tyler Lockett (26 REC, 328 YDS, 12.6 Y/R, 2 TD) added Four Catches of his own for Fifty-One Yards. With that said, this contest could’ve gone been much closer had the Cardinals been a bit more fortunate; the Seahawks fumbled the football on three occasions, but managed to recover each of them, and certainly benefitted from the home side missing a pair of Field Goals in the First Half, the first from Forty-Three Yards and the second from Forty-Eight. All in all, the victory continued a positive trend for the club when traveling to the desert, where they haven’t lost since 2012, going 6-0-1 in that span, including a Tie back in 2016. However, it’s been a different sort of trend when meeting the Rams of late, who have taken four out of their last six encounters since the club moved to Los Angeles back in 2016, including each of the last three matchups. In their two games in 2018, Carroll’s troops had a devil of a time slowing down their opponent, with Los Angeles racking up 468 and 456 Total Yards respectively, and scoring a combined Sixty-Nine Points. Throughout his career, the aforementioned Wilson has had an up and down run against this NFC West Rival, going 6-8 while completing 65.3% of his Passes an average of 215.0 Yards per Game on 6.51 Net Yards per Attempt, with Twenty Touchdowns in comparison to Eight Interceptions. Few teams have managed to place him under fire like the Rams, who have sacked him Fifty-Five times in his career, by far and away more than any other team, for a Sack Percentage of 13.6%.