It doesn’t get much bigger than this.
The Seattle Seahawks host the Los Angeles Rams at 1:25 p.m. Sunday at Lumen Field, and in all likelihood the game is going to decide who wins the NFC West.
Seattle and L.A. sit atop the division. The Seahawks are first at 10-4, while the Rams are a game back at 9-5.
Seattle heads into the game off its 20-15 road victory over Washington. The Seahawks have won two straight and four of their past five. L.A. is coming off an inexplicable 23-20 home loss to the previously winless New York Jets, snapping a two-game winning streak as well as the Rams’ own stretch of winning four of five.
When the teams met in Week 10 the game matched perhaps the league’s best offense (Seattle) against arguably the league’s best defense (L.A.). On that occasion it was the defense that prevailed as the Rams won 23-16 at SoFi Stadium in a game that felt like was dominated by the Rams, but the Seahawks somehow managed to keep it close.
Since then Seattle’s profile has evolved. The Seahawks are no longer the NFL’s best offense, slipping to fourth in the league in points per game (29.5) and eighth in yards per game (381.4). Quarterback Russell Wilson has looked human after spending the first seven games as the MVP front-runner, though Wilson still has an elite duo of receivers to throw to in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, while running back Chris Carson appears to be fully recovered from his foot injury.
However, the Seahawks defense has done a dramatic turnaround, now ranking 15th in the league in points allowed per game (24.6) and 26th in yards allowed (387.6) — and Seattle no longer is on pace to break the NFL record for passing yards allowed in a season. The full integration of safety Jamal Adams and defensive end Carlos Dunlap has the Seahawks allowing 14.6 points per game over their past five.
The Rams are still perhaps the NFL’s best defense, leading the NFL in yards allowed per game (286.1) and ranking third in points allowed per game (19.2). Defensive tackle Aaron Donald remains perhaps the best defensive player in the game, while cornerback Jalen Ramsey as one of the premier shutdown corners in the league.
L.A.’s offense hasn’t been the well-oil machine it was when the Rams reached the Super Bowl two seasons ago, ranking 17th in points per game (24.6) and seventh in yards per game (383.2). Quarterback Jared Goff appears to have plateaued, though the Rams have run the ball well by committee this season.
The outcome of Sunday’s game doesn’t necessarily determine the division winner. It does if Seattle wins, as the Seahawks will clinch their fifth division title in coach Pete Carroll’s 11 seasons with a victory. However, if the Rams win it’s not over yet. The teams would be tied at 10-5, and although L.A. would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker by having swept the season series, Seattle could still finish first if it wins at San Francisco on the season’s final day while the Rams lose at home to Arizona, a plausible scenario considering the 49ers have already been eliminated from the postseason and the Cardinals could still be fighting for their playoff spot.
So what do you think? Which team wins Sunday’s crucial game between the Seahawks and Rams? Make your predicti0n by voting here.