In a game much closer than many predicted, Todd Gurley rushed for three touchdowns as the Rams held off the Seahawks 33-31 in Week 5 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The Seahawks were called for a pair of critical penalties on a potential game-winning drive, and failed to stop Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff on a fourth-and-1 sneak with under two minutes remaining due to an inexplicably poor defensive formation that gave Goff an easy lane for the first down.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Tyler Lockett vs. Marcus Peters
It’s been quite the season of eating humble pie for Peters, a former University of Washington star who was kicked off the team for insubordination. After three terrific seasons with the Chiefs, the braggadocious Peters was traded to the Rams in the offseason and has struggled to find his groove again. Lockett beat Peters for a 39-yard score, and David Moore beat Peters twice for touchdowns in the first meeting. In fact, Peters has already given up six touchdowns this season, two more than he allowed all of last season, and has given up a staggering 145.2 passer rating when targeted, according to Pro Football Focus. According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Lockett has been given an average cushion of 7 yards by defenders, sixth-highest in the league this season, clearly respecting his deep speed. Look for the Seahawks to test this matchup once again on Sunday.
J.R. Sweezy vs. Corey Littleton
Former University of Washington linebacker Corey Littleton has quietly become a stellar player for the Rams. The three-year veteran is fourth in the NFL with 75 tackles and also has three sacks and an interception so far this season. Littleton was never a star for the Huskies, but was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 after a senior season that included six sacks. Littleton went undrafted in the 2016 draft, but signed with the Rams as a free agent. Not only has been been great on defense, but Littleton is a standout on special teams as well. He has two blocked punts this season, including one against the Seahawks in the teams’ first meeting, good enough to earn a spot on Pro Football Focus’ Midseason All-Pro Team. The Seahawks use Sweezy as a pulling guard quite often, and he’ll need to locate Littleton to keep the active linebacker off Seattle’s running backs.
Michael Dickson vs. Johnny Hekker
If there were ever a time to feature punters it’s in this game right here. Hekker, a former star quarterback at Bothell High School, has become a multi-purpose weapon for the Rams. His ability to pull off the fake punt is almost uncanny. Oh, and not to mention he may be one of the best punters in NFL history as well. Dickson is no slouch in his own right, pulling off a big fake punt in the Seahawks’ win over the Lions. The rookie Dickson is second in the NFL with a net punting average of 43.6 yards this season on 41 kicks. Hekker has punted a mere 23 times all season. Don’t get up and go to the bathroom on fourth down in this game — something electric just might happen.
36.8 — Percent chance given to the Seahawks to make the playoffs, a 13.7-percent decrease after last week’s loss to the Chargers, according to FootballOusiders.com. It goes without saying that the Seahawks need to start stringing together some wins if they have any hope of reaching the postseason. By contrast, the Rams have a 99.6-percent chance to reach the postseason, and a 21.7-percent chance to win the Super Bowl. But look at the bright side — there’s still a 0.2-percent chance of a Seahawks-Steelers Super Bowl XL rematch, so dust off those Matt Hasselbeck jerseys just in case.
DID YOU KNOW?
With a record of 4-4, the Seahawks are in danger of falling below .500 after nine games for just the third time in Pete Carroll’s nine seasons as head coach. Seattle was 3-6 after nine games in 2011 and 4-5 in 2015. The 2011 team was perhaps the most forgettable in the Carroll era, with Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst throwing balls to Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu. However, that was the same season the Seahawks drafted K.J Wright, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Malcolm Smith, and signed Doug Baldwin as an undrafted free agent, setting the stage for a future Super Bowl championship. Seattle would clearly love similar success from this current team in transition.
Obviously everyone knows that wide receiver is a position on the football field, but many people may not realize that, like offensive linemen, receivers also have positions within that position group. Most of the time these positions are given a letter such as X, Y, or Z. “X” receiver is the split end, “Z” is the flanker and “Y” is the tight end (the slot receiver is usually just called the “slot,” but can also be referred to as the “Y” in some cases). The “X,” or split end, is usually the widest receiver away from the tight end and is lined up on the line of scrimmage. The “Z,” or flanker, is usually on the opposite side of the field from the split end and lined up a few yards off the line of scrimmage. The Seahawks receivers are very interchangeable, but think of David Moore as an “X,” Tyler Lockett as a “Z,” Doug Baldwin as a slot and of course Nick Vannett as a “Y.” Assigning receivers letters makes it much easier, and faster, for a quarterback to call a play in the huddle that tells each one which route to run.
Another week, another game against a team from Los Angeles that does very little to stir up the sentimental taste buds. As it drizzles outside and you sit in your cold living room watching the game from the sunny Coliseum, it’s probably best to have a nice warm bowl of chili on your lap. There’s no perfect way to make chili, but stick with the basics of ground beef, tomato paste, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, plus your beans of choice and you can’t go wrong. Throw all the ingredients in the crock pot for a few hours and enjoy. Grab a beer from Stone Brewing Co., the largest brewery in Southern California and available everywhere, to round out the meal. The Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 would be a great choice, and hope for less than ruination on the field on Sunday.
Rams 38, Seahawks 24
The Seahawks have actually played better on the road this season than at home, a fairly dramatic change from years past, so a case could be made that this is a winnable game, especially since Seattle played the Rams tough just a few weeks ago. Not so much. Unfortunately the Rams are just a step better than the Seahawks, and in some cases many steps. Seattle’s just not ready to keep up with Los Angeles on the scoreboard and falls fairly easily.