The most important game of the first five games is here, ladies and gentlemen, as the Seahawks travel to L.A. to take on the first-place Rams.
The Seahawks evened their record last week at 2-2 with their first convincing win of the season over the Jacoby Brissett-led Indianapolis Colts. The win kept them one game behind the 3-1 Rams for first place in the NFC West.
Now for the Ol’ West showdown. The Rams are vastly improved on offense from last season, when they squeaked out a 9-3 win in Los Angeles over the Seahawks. New coach Sean McVay has has breathed new life into the offense, which appears to finally know how to use running back Todd Gurley and second-year quarterback Jared Goff.
Last week, in an impressive win over Cowboys in Dallas, Goff kept feeding Gurley and the Cowboys didn’t know how to stop it. He gained 121 yards rushing on 23 carries and caught seven of his eight targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The problem with the Rams isn’t just Gurley, however. New wide receiver and former Buffalo Bills castoff Sammy Watkins, while he killed my fantasy team with only 17 yards receiving last week, presents matchup problems even for the Legion of Boom. The former fourth-overall pick showed he still had top-end catching ability and speed two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers, when he scored two touchdowns in that shootout.
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And then there’s the resurgent Goff. The Rams looked like fools during the 2016 NFL Draft, when they ponied up a clutch of draft picks to take the Cal quarterback. His first season was brutal. Goff looked completely incapable of standing in the pocket comfortably and delivering the ball as he did in college. This season has been a complete 180. He has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception while leading the league in yards-per-attempt (9.2) and yards-per-completion (13.7) through four games.
Toss in Yakima native Cooper Kupp in the slot and another former Bills wide receiver, Robert Woods, and you have a solid array of pass-catchers for Goff that the Seahawks will have to match up with without cornerback Jeremy Lane, who is unlikely to start because of a groin injury.
300+ words in and I haven’t mentioned that talented L.A. defensive line. Aaron Donald and company have given Russell Wilson problems for years. With last week’s starting left tackle Rees Odhiambo out with a bruised sternum, the Seahawks will have to shuffle their offensive line again.
We’ll have more coverage as we get closer to kickoff between these two NFC West rivals.