The NFC West is the best division in football. Don’t give me any of that AFC North business. I love the Browns and Ravens. I think the Bengals are on the upswing of their rebuild, but Cincy and the Steelers are still definitely not contenders in the AFC. Any team in the NFC West could win the conference given the right circumstances, and that’s what makes inter-divisional games like the one tonight so important.
As great as every team is in the NFC West, it’s highly unlikely that all four teams reach the postseason. It will likely be just two, maaaybe three. Therefore, with the bottom three teams all within one game of one another, and only two divisional games played thus far, tonight’s game could have major playoff implications down the line. Keep in mind, after head-to-head records, the next tiebreaker is divisional records. With the Rams already 0-1 on the season against the NFC West, an 0-2 start could devastate their chances of overtaking the Cardinals or Seahawks for first place in the division. They wouldn’t hold the advantage in head-to-head with either team, and both the teams they’ve faced would still be undefeated in divisional play. Not a good look.
As for the Seahawks, this is their biggest test of the season. We all know how talented Seattle is, especially on the offensive end. However, they’ve also been wildly inconsistent. Through their first four games, the Seahawks have smacked the Colts around, blew a huge lead to Derrick Henry and the Titans, got smacked around by the Vikings, and played one good half of football against the 49ers and that was enough to get the win. They’re 2-2, and no one really knows what to think of them.
Are they contenders? I mean, they couldn’t handle Derrick Henry at all. Even the Jets managed to pull out the dub against Tennessee. I know that was without AJ Brown and Julio Jones, but still… it’s the Jets. On paper, are the Seahawks really good? Oh, yes. Russ is an elite quarterback. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are one of the greatest receiver duos in the NFL. Bobby Wagner is still an incredible linebacker, but if they’re so good and have all this talent… why haven’t they looked better thus far?
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This will be a very telling game for both teams. Can the Seahawks put together 60 minutes of consistently good football to compete with one of the most complete rosters in the NFL? Can the Rams recover from their loss to the Cardinals to remain competitive in the NFC West? And who’s got the advantage tonight?
The answer to that last question is tricky. The Rams have a lot going in their favor. You see, the Seahawks are a team that relies on their top-end talent to win games. However, Jalen Ramsey almost eliminates one of their top options on offense entirely. In four career games against the Rams, Metcalf has never gone for more than 80 yards through the air, and has just 16 receptions. In 2020, when Metcalf and Ramsey went head-to-head, Metcalf recorded only four catches for 44 yards.
Obviously, the Seahawks aren’t just a one-trick pony and don’t need Metcalf to be a huge part of the offense in order to win. Since the start of 2019, the Seahawks are 17-6 when Metcalf records five or fewer receptions. However, the Seahawks do need Wilson to be on top of his game. Since 2019, the Seahawks are 6-8 when Wilson has a passer rating under 100. This over-reliance on Wilson is somehow both a strength and weakness of the Seahawks and has been ever since the Legion of Boom completely disbanded in March of 2019. Wilson is an incredible talent, so building around him makes sense. However, when Wilson has an off-game or when that picket fence they call an offensive line can’t protect Wilson, the Seahawks tend to struggle. The Rams’ defense is going to make it very difficult for Wilson to succeed. Not only does Ramsey more or less eliminate one of his top targets altogether, but Aaron Donald has been an absolute menace to Wilson throughout his career. In their last seven meetings, Donald has nine sacks on Wilson. He gets through that offensive line like nobody’s business. Since the start of 2019, Donald has at least two hurries and three pressures in every single game against the Seahawks.
Not to mention, the Rams have the best team they’ve had in years with the addition of Matthew Stafford. Stafford adds a whole new dimension to the Rams’ offense. Where Goff was never someone who could make all the throws necessary in Sean McVay’s system, Stafford has the arm talent that can make even a 34-year-old DeSean Jackson threatening. His connection with Cooper Kupp is remarkable, and even without a reliable running game backing him up, Stafford has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL four weeks into the season.
All that being said, the Seahawks have history on their side. Seattle has won their last two games against the Rams at home. They’ve split or won the season series with Los Angeles in four of the last five seasons. Despite all the pressure Aaron Donald has put on Wilson, all the talent on the Rams’ rosters throughout the years, the Seahawks always seem to find a way to compete. At the very least, the games are always competitive… except for 2017 Week 15. That was a blowout. Besides that though, all but one game since the start of the 2016 season have been within two scores, and all but two more have been within one score.
These two teams always bring exciting football to our television screens — something that Thursday Night Football could definitely use after we got Jags-Bengals in Week 4 and Panthers-Texans in Week 3. All signs point to the Rams winning this game. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Seahawks managed to pull off an upset. Never count Russell Wilson out.