NFL Wild Card Preview: Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawksby Nicolette Rojo January 9, 2021 0 comments
After defeating the Arizona Cardinals to advance to the postseason, the Los Angeles Rams hit the road to take on the NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks. This is the second time in three weeks the two rivals will go up against each other.
Los Angeles Rams
Despite the Rams advancing to the playoffs, injuries could play a huge factor in this matchup. Head Coach Sean McVay’s starting quarterback announcement is a game-time decision. Jared Goff just had surgery on his thumb two weeks ago, so it would not be surprising if he starts, but John Wolford steps in later. Goff injured his thumb in the second half of their Week 16 loss against the Seahawks, Seattle’s defense has been skeptical all season but has been picking it up in the second half. An interesting note is that their defense held the Rams under 10 points for the sixth time in the McVay era.
Asides from the quarterback question, the biggest key is their overall offensive performance. The Rams have not scored a touchdown in two games, which is crucial when battling the NFC West champs. However, left tackle Andrew Whitworth will return after tearing ligaments in his knee two months ago, along with their leader in yards receiving and receptions, Cooper Kupp. Defensively, the Rams have the No. 1 ranked passing defense and only allowed 281.9 yards per game (first in the league) while picking up 53 sacks this season. However, while numbers don’t lie, they also don’t tell the whole truth. Seattle averaged 27 points per game in the Rams’ last three visits on the road.
However, home-field advantage may play a part here, in a different way.
The Seahawks will host a playoff game for the first time since 2017 when they last claimed the NFC West title. However, the 12th man will not be present in the stands due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, they have finished 7-1 at home this season, which is encouraging for Seattle. Russell Wilson has been solid all season, but Seattle’s defense has been the key to their success, especially in the second half. Seattle has been noted as a team that excels on the offense to make up for a mediocre defense. However, that has not been the case this season.
In their final eight games, the Seahawks only allowed 16 points per game, which is the best in the league. They had 46 sacks on the year, with 37 of them over the final 10 games. Wilson will continue to play his role, especially with the elite receiving duo of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. However, the key to success is how they adjust to an elite Rams’ secondary, led by Jalen Ramsey, who has shut down the duo. For this reason, Seattle’s defense is the X-factor in this wild card matchup, especially if Goff does not see much action today. It is up to Jamal Adams, K.J. Wright, and Bobby Wagner to lead Seattle’s defense and execute against an overall solid Rams’ offense.
Date: January 9, 2021
Start Time: 1:40 P.M. pst
Location: Seattle, Wash.
Stadium: Lumen Field
TV Info: FOX
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Points Spread: LA +3 (-110) | SEA -3 (-110)
Moneyline: LA +150 | SEA -185
Over/Under: O 42 (-110) | U 42 (-110)
Both teams excelled offensively all season. However, the Seahawks and Rams always play each other close. Definitely consider the under for this one, especially if Wolford is primarily behind center. No 12th man in Seattle potentially makes home-field advantage a non-factor, but with the Seahawks’ defense significantly improving, take their money line.
You can never go wrong with a classic NFC West battle between two rivals. The Rams and Seahawks typically play in close matchups and this one will be no exception. However, Seattle has been red hot, especially on defense, and will likely hold off against the Rams. This will be a close one, but Seattle takes the edge here and move on to the NFC Divisional Round.
Final Score: Los Angeles Rams 17, Seattle Seahawks 24