I don’t know what you do with this game. The Rams are so far and away the better of the two teams that it hardly feels like anything to get worked up about. Stick me on a court and pit me against LeBron James … and I’m supposed to be upset when he beats me 5,000,000 to 0?
I’m sorry, but I got nothin’. Last December, the Rams came to town and won 42-7, and it wasn’t even THAT close! I know there were a number of injured players – particularly on defense – that hampered the Seahawks’ chances … but guess what? Earl’s gone, K.J. is still down, Mychal Kendricks is suspended, Avril’s retired, Kam’s retired, Bennett’s gone, Sherm’s gone, Dion Jordan is whatever, Rasheem Green’s got an ankle of some sort. This defense is a shell of its former self, and while they’ve done the lord’s work in over-achieving thus far in 2018, the Seahawks haven’t seen a team even REMOTELY close to what the Rams are, particularly on offense.
The Broncos are garbage, as we all expected. The Cardinals are trash. The Cowboys are a mess. And don’t be fooled by what the Bears did to the Bucs, because that Bucs defense is one of the worst in all of football.
This is the Los Angeles Fucking Rams! Even when they had Jeff Fisher they were kicking our asses, and now they have a living and breathing genius at the helm! They’re 4-0 and they’ve scored over 30 points in every game. Say what you want about the teams they played (Raiders, Cardinals, Chargers, and Vikings all look pretty suspect on defense), but the Rams weren’t pussyfooting around. They reached out, grabbed those teams by the throat, and went to fucking TOWN! No easing off the accelerator, no going up big and coasting in the second halves. They just keep coming and coming and coming, until the final whistle blows.
But, you know, crazy things happen. The Bills went into Minnesota and destroyed them. They’ve since come to look pretty mediocre against the Packers, so was that a fluke? Are the Vikings way overrated? Hard to say. I still think the Bills are good for less than 6 wins this year, and I’d be hard-pressed to peg them as winners of more than 2 or 3. The point is, they don’t play games on paper. Games aren’t decided by one yutz’s blog post. So, let’s get to work; let’s try to solve this impossible riddle of how to beat the Rams.
For starters, you have to like the fact the game’s in Seattle. The Rams have played 3/4 games at home so far and their only road game was in Oakland, which … come on. The Seahawks are 2-2 now, on a 2-game winning streak, and this season is pretty much on the line this Sunday. Lose, and the Seahawks are who we thought they were; win, and the sky just might be the limit. The way I’m leaning, I’ve got it 99:1 that the Seahawks lose, but in that rare 1% chance, we could be talking about something great.
But, home field advantage never won a game by itself. The 12’s can be as loud as they want, but it’s still going to require the Seahawks to go out there and do the job. From that angle, I see two possibilities.
The first involves the Seahawks doing exactly what they’ve done the last two weeks. Lots of running the ball on first & second downs, getting into 3rd & short situations, slowing the game down, limiting turnovers, hopefully limiting opportunities for the other team to have the ball, and grinding out an ugly, close, low-scoring game. If I had to guess what the game plan is for this week, it’s going to look exactly like that.
And I think that if you asked around the league, most people would agree that’s how you do it. How do you beat Peyton Manning? Keep him off the field. How do you beat Tom Brady? Keep him off the field. And that’s worked at times; probably less than a 50% success rate, but better than nothing. But, has it worked for teams with defenses this deficient?
The problem with that scheme is, we can slow things down all we want, but the Rams are still BETTER than us. They’ll most likely be able to get off the field on third downs, get the ball back to their offense, and race down the field for many multiple scores, all with incredible ease. If we try to slow it down and muck it up, we’re going to lose and lose big, I have no doubt about it.
The other possibility is a shootout, which I still feel is our only hope. It won’t happen right off the bat, but after a quarter of play, when the Seahawks are down 14-0, obviously the script is going to have to be thrown out the window. They’re going to have to take the training wheels off of Russell Wilson, and they’re going to have to let him run the show. Up tempo, lots of throwing, one or two magical escape acts sprinkled in, and maybe you can find a way to keep up with their offense in a 38-35 type game (a la the game against the Steelers in 2015). Those games are so rare and precious that it’s stupid to want to expect it, but if the Seahawks are going to win this game, that’s going to have to be how we do it.
There’s no way in hell that the Seahawks will be the first team to keep the Rams under 30 points this season. We have no pass rush, full stop. But, that’s neither here nor there, because the Rams are too quick anyway. They get the ball out fast, before we’d even have a CHANCE to move the pocket. They have the best running back in the league, who is a threat running and receiving. K.J. Wright was always the key in guarding someone like Gurley, and you saw last year what happened when we were without our best pass-defending linebacker. What’s going to happen this time? Are we going to shadow him with Bobby Wagner? Are we going to bring Bradley McDougald down closer to the line? What does that do to our pass defense when Tedric Thompson is our guy roaming the middle?
Speaking of which, the Rams have three REALLY good receivers on top of their all-world running back. Brandin Cooks is a stud and a deep threat. Robert Woods is savagely underrated. And Cooper Kupp is a top notch slot receiver. Our corners are, I think, better than expected heading into the season, but they’re not going to completely shut those guys down. And there’s a significant talent gap from Earl to the next man up, which is going to further open things up in the middle of the field.
Honestly, this game is going to be hard to watch. If you need some sort of alcohol or marijuana enhancement to make it through this one, I won’t blame you one bit.