Tale of the Tape: Rams Last Gasp is Plenty Dangerous

It was not long ago that the Rams were considered kings of the hill in the NFC West, and even the NFC more broadly. The Seahawks needed to prove they could overcome the team that made the Super Bowl last season, won two straight division titles, and three straight head-to-head matchups. It felt monumental when Seattle did just that earlier this season, but feels less so a couple of months removed.

Los Angeles entered that game 3-1, and has gone 4-4 since that point. They have a point differential of +20 over those eight games. Seattle has a differential of +22 in the same stretch, but has managed to go 7-1. 

There are multiple ways to interpret that variation of result. Many would attribute it to luck. Others would point to the different players occupying the quarterback position. Some may consider the head coaches, and which one has track record of sustained success and developing talent to finish the season stronger than they started. 

Whatever the reason, the case can be made that these two teams are very evenly matched even if the record indicates otherwise. The Rams have one of the least intimidating home fields in the NFL, and represent a short trip compared to the bevy of 10AM games across the country Seattle has played thus far. 

This game determines if the Rams playoff hopes remain alive. They have a lot to play for. They had plenty to play for a couple of weeks ago in prime time, and that did not stop them from getting curb-stomped by the Ravens on their home field. Seattle has a chance to end the Rams season and further their own odds of securing a division title.

The Rams have plenty of talent left, particularly on defense, to play spoiler if Seattle does not play well. This, though, is one the Seahawks should win. 

The way this works: Each offense will be pitted against the opposing defense and compared on an array of key statistical attributes based on their respective rank in the NFL. The tables that follow show the rank of each unit for each of these categories. 

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Seahawks Offense vs Rams Defense

Rams key advantages on defense

Aaron Donald is still a dominant force. That won’t change for many years. He has 9.5 sacks and created havoc in the first matchup early on. Justin Britt is gone and Joey Hunt has done a mostly admirable job filling in. He has had trouble with bull rushes, and Donald is the biggest bull on the block.

Safety Taylor Rapp missed the first game between these teams, and has now ascended to a starting role opposite Eric Weddle. He’s excellent in coverage and should be a quality safety for a long time. Seattle is missing the services of Will Dissly, who had 81 yards receiving the first matchup, but you can expect Rapp to work on limiting Jacob Hollister.

Jalen Ramsey has been acquired, and replaces Marcus Peters, who Russell Wilson picked on multiple times. It seems unlikely he will shadow Tyler Lockett considering how ineffective Lockett has been the past two games.

Nickell Robey-Coleman is an excellent nickel corner, who did a decent job on Lockett in the first game.

Overall, this is the third best rush defense in the NFL by a few different metrics. Seattle has faced six of the top nine run defenses in the league, and topped 100 yards rushing against all of them. They have topped 140 yards rushing in five of those games, including the past two weeks.

Seahawks key advantages on offense

The Rams defense has generally needed to be terrific in order for the Rams to win.

There have been six games this season when the Rams have allowed 17 or more points. They are 1-5 in those games.

That is a very tough standard to meet in today’s offensive-centric NFL. Only four teams in the league average fewer than 17 points per game, meaning the Rams have had to hold teams well under their averages to win.

That is a very different story than the past two seasons when their offense led the way.

Wilson was masterful in the first meeting. He threw for four touchdowns and finished with a nearly perfect passer rating of 151.8. He has not had a game like that in some time. He knows this team well. There will be few surprises.

He will need his receivers to be healthy and to stop fumbling the ball. D.K. Metcalf could be a great option against the smaller Troy Hill at corner, but he needs to protect the football.

D.J. Fluker left the first game with an injury, and Jamarco Jones filled in splendidly. Fluker’s return could be good for Seattle on the ground, but may mean more problems in pass protection. On the flip side, Mike Iupati struggled a lot in the first game, but has been playing quite well over the past few games.

The offensive line is coming off their best game of the season, and one of the better games by a Seahawks line in years. This is a game that lends itself to Rashaad Penny’s penchant for explosive rushes.

Rams Offense vs Seahawks Defense

Rams key advantages on offense

The Rams offense still has Sean McVay. It still has Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee have been central to the Rams attack this season, and had big games against Seattle in October.

Everett missed the game last week due to injury and is questionable this week. Whether he plays or not, the Rams have receiving targets that will challenge the Seahawks secondary.

As pedestrian as the Rams have been offensively at times this season, they just piled up over 300 yards passing in the first half against Arizona.

Seattle had them in trouble for the first half earlier this year, and then saw them explode in the second. The passing game is key here.

Seahawks key advantages on defense

The Rams offensive line is atrocious. Andrew Whitworth is okay at left tackle, but the rest of the crew is really bad. They lost their center Brian Allen to injury a few weeks back and are now starting Austin Corbett. Rob Havenstein missed the last game or two with an injury and may be back, but he has allowed more pressures than anyone on the line, so it is hard to say if him playing is helpful to the Rams or the Seahawks. Austin Blythe is awful.

Seattle had zero sacks and just five QB hits in the first game. Those numbers should be much higher in this one. Goff makes some amazing throws, but he also makes plenty of back-breaking mistakes with fumbles and interceptions. He has 13 touchdowns and a whopping 12 interceptions. He also has 10 fumbles, having lost five of them.

Jarran Reed did not play in the first game. Quinton Jefferson led the team with seven pressures. Jadeveon Clowney has become far more comfortable in this defense. Ziggy Ansah, assuming he can play, has surged the last two weeks. Rasheem Green has flashed. Shaquem Griffin was not on the field the last time they played. There is almost a completely different pass rush for the Rams to contend with. Go eat, fellas.

Tedric Thompson made one of the most beautiful interceptions you will ever see in the first game, but was dismal in coverage and tackling the rest of the game. Quandre Diggs steps in and should present very different problems for the Rams passing attack.

The clear improvement of Tre Flowers will be tested in this one, and we very well may see Ugo Amadi finally get some snaps at nickel corner. Akeem King seems like an odd fit against these receivers. That will definitely be a matchup to watch.

The Rams rushing game has been mostly non-existent behind this offensive line. Seattle should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage. This is a game the Seahawks defense should rise up and lower the bar for how well the Seattle offense needs to play.

Special Teams

Jason Myers missed a big kick in the first game. He has been reliable of late. Greg Zuerlein has had a more inconsistent season than usual. The Rams special teams is marginally better than the Seahawks but they also just lost their dynamic kick and punt returner for the year.

Keep an eye out for fakes. That is always the case with the Rams, but they need to pull out all the stops in this one.

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  1. Prediction: Goff exits the game with more INTs than TDs for the season and the Seahawks get their first comfortable win since the Arizona game.

    LA loads the box to stop the run; Wilson takes advantage with deadly PA passing; Lockett returns to 100% health with a big day, and Flash is unleashed for two long TDs.

  2. its called ‘tale of the tape’ but really its team-wide, season-long numbers expressed as rank, which is obfuscating. Whats the difference between ranking say, 5th and 10th in yards per play? 1 yard? 0.1? Could be a wash or could be a huge gap.

  3. We’ve had a couple ageist members here who’ve, on occasion, railed against PC as being “too old” to be effective anymore (though not so much lately). I don’t recall if it was last season or toward the end of the prior one, but there was a reporter at one of PCs pressers that asked a question along the lines of “What do you think of the Wunderkind Coach of the Rams being such a winner?” Pete was his usual gracious self and replied something like, “He’s a terrific young coach who knows his stuff. He’s doing very well now and should into the future. But, there is one lesson he’ll eventually learn. The NFL can be tough, and you won’t always have it go your way.” With age comes wisdom……………….;)

    Most fans and “reporters” seem to prognosticate based on prior game dynamics or performance against other teams, particularly common opponents. What’s missing in that sort of “analysis” is the match up factors. As Brian enumerates, there are very different players on the field this time compared to the match ups earlier this season, more so on the Rams defense than the Seahawk offense. The Seahawk O line is playing better, particularly with the six man front which aids the Penny/Carson duo. They also handled the stout front of the Vikes well, with Hunt being especially effective considering. If Russ can remember to speed up his passing release as he did earlier in the year the air game might work better too. If Lockett is still diminished for whichever reason(s) it’s gonna be tough. Hollister might end up being the difference, unless Gordon comes alive more than he’s been. We’ll see.

    The defense is shaping up to possibly be our best asset. This might be a good match up for the speed rush of Quem to harass Goff. The Rams have been managing Gurley’s snaps early, but once they fell far behind in the division they’ve thrown that out and have turned him loose. They’ll probably use him up before any play off games happen, but they don’t have much choice……….without him they probably don’t have even the remote chance at post season they have on paper right now. We’ll see if the addition of Diggs and the change at nickel will help contain to some degree the effectiveness of Kupp. He’s ideal to exploit our D alignment weaknesses.

    The key to this weekend will be pretty much like the Viking game. Control the clock, keep the opponent offense off the field, and try not to make too many mistakes. The officiating Monday night, though not perfect, was still somewhat “old school” in their choice to pretty much “let them play”. Not sure we’ll be as fortunate this week, but who knows? Another good test for our guys………..the Rams ain’t dead yet, they just have looked like it for awhile.

    1. Interesting comment to start there. I don’t think I’ve seen any reasonable person suggest that Pete was too old to coach in an ageist sense.

      What I and others have said often is that the game has changed and Pete hasn’t, so in that sense he is a dinosaur. I believe his old-school conservatism will doom this year’s team either down the stretch or in the playoffs, but it isn’t because I think he is going senile.

      You can twist that take into ageism if you like.

      1. Addendum:

        BB is 7 months younger than PC, but remains the most mentally sharp, flexible, and creative coach in the league. While he continues to not just change with the times, but to be well ahead of that change more times than not, PC remains stuck in a traditional football mindset. Without a HOF quarterback, Pete would have been run out of town by now.

        It’s not age, it’s attitude.

      2. . . . i think pete is more forward thinking than he gets credit for . . . i can’t think of another head coach who has been more forward-thinking on a personnel level; transitioning defensive linemen into offensive linemen, safeties into CBs, QBs into receivers . . . he pretty much invented what is now the prototypical NFL corner, and i love how he invents roles for players so he can utilize their tools, as with shaqueem griffin, and to some extent michael kendricks . . . also, he miles ahead of the competition in his culture building, messaging, practice techniques, tackling techniques . . . so, he likes to run the ball and punt on fourth down, that hardly makes him a dinosaur . . .

  4. I think Rams feel the urgency and will play their best game of the season plus don’t forget if that field goal goes through in Seattle Rams would be just one game behind them!

  5. SB runs feature the emergence of individual players. Such as the Rasheed Bro’s in Seattle.

    And the list goes on.

    Yo, No E, get well soonest.


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