I feel like this one is going to hurt a little bit. Last week, I expected a loss, but it’s the Bills so who cares, right? This one is going to sting. Even though I can see it coming – and therefore am able to brace myself for impact a little bit better – there’s something about losing to the Rams that gets to me. Kind of like the Mariners with the Astros. In both cases, I would argue the Seahawks spent many years squandering opportunities to really bury the Rams when they were bad-to-mediocre (the Jeff Fisher years), just as the Mariners failed to take advantage of a historically bad Astros team in the years leading up to their dominant (and cheating) run. Losses to these teams now wouldn’t hit so hard if we’d beaten them when we were supposed to, because these things in sports are always cyclical. BUT, if you lose to teams within your division when they’re bad, and then continue to lose to them when they’re good, it’s not cyclical, it’s a trend. It gets in our heads. We start feeling a little more anxious and a little more desperate. We feel that as fans, and I would argue the team feels it a little bit.
Any win against the Rams feels like a fluke (like last year’s last-second victory in Seattle, on Thursday night, when their usually-reliable kicker – especially against us – missed a 44-yarder by … inches?) and any loss to the Rams feels appropriate (like last year’s 28-12 defeat down in Los Angeles, when the offense couldn’t do ANYTHING and the only touchdown we scored was a pick-six early in the second half). Every time I’ve written about the Seahawks/Rams matchups, I feel like I’m the same broken record: for the Seahawks to win, they’re going to have to prevail in a shootout. It’s going to be close throughout, and we will either need to score late or prevent a score late; something like 38-35 feels appropriate.
If you thought the defense looked bad against the Bills last week, just wait and see what the Rams’ offense has in store! Jared Goff has a weakness: he succumbs to pressure in his face. He’s not particularly fleet-of-foot, so if we can win some matchups along the defensive line – or send some well-timed blitzes – we should be able to get him down relatively easy. But, of course, that’s always a big IF! Because they’re so smart, the Rams are constantly looking to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. And, as we’ve all seen from this Seahawks secondary, they can’t cover a dying sea turtle who’s been kicked onto its back and into a pile of wet cement (for some reason, Tre Flowers is STILL giving the dying sea turtle 15 yards of cushion!).
You remember the Grinch, when he’s imagining the Whos with their jing-tinglers and floofloovers and tartookas? How it’s all swirling around in his Grinchy brain, driving him mad? Well, for me, this Rams game is giving me Grinchy visions of crossing routes, with Robert Woods wide open 10 yards down field, and Cooper Kupp with dozens of unmolested yards-after-catch. Playing against this Snuggle Bear-soft defense must be like Christmas for these Rams receivers!
So, yeah, this feels very much like the Grinch strolling on down to Whoville. And, like the Grinch, I don’t think we’ll have the heart to steal Christmas from the Rams this week.
If every victory feels like pulling teeth, every defeat feels preordained. You know how the Rams beat the Seahawks? By living in Russell Wilson’s lap for four quarters. Aaron Donald and his cronies are always able to make quick work of our offensive line. To be fair, Aaron Donald is the most athletically-gifted football player alive today, so he makes MANY offensive lines look like they’re playing Tiddlywinks, but I’m starting to take it personally at how many levels he raises his game whenever he plays against the Seahawks. This is, of course, made all the more dire by the fact that Ethan Pocic got concussed in last week’s game and almost certainly won’t play this week (he has yet to practice, so even if he does get cleared before gametime, lack of practice is far from ideal as well). New, untested center, combined with rookie Damien Lewis at right guard and the revolving door that’s been playing left guard? Smells like a recipe for Aaron Donald to EAT, Hungry Hungry Hippos-style. Russell Wilson is the marbles. And someone is tipping the board to one side.
That having been said, I think that 28-12 loss was a fluke in its own right. I don’t remember what happened, but the Seahawks’ offense isn’t USUALLY that inept. Even when we lose to the Rams, it’s usually a higher-scoring affair. I think it’s much more likely that continues this weekend. But, I won’t throw out a Rams blowout victory with the bathwater; I think that’s very much on the table, as well as the close (and high-scoring) victories by either the Rams or Seahawks. I think there is almost a zero-percent chance the Seahawks blow out the Rams. If that happened, I think I’d be over the moon and on the hunt for Super Bowl tickets the following morning! How is Tampa in February? COVID-free, I would presume …
My hope for this game is that it took a week for our defense (at least, the guys who joined/re-joined the team) to mesh, and with a second week of practice, they’ll figure out a way to make it work and get some stops before we dig too deep a hole for ourselves. Snacks Harrison is joining the squad this week – after needing about a month to get in shape (both shape-shape and football-shape) – so hopefully he provides a little boost to our run defense (and maybe frees up Jarran Reed to be more disruptive in pass rush). I also hope that whatever breakdowns in communication we had last week have been fixed among the secondary, so guys aren’t running QUITE so wide open all over the motherfucking field.
On the flipside, I do expect the offense to be at least a little more careful with the football, compared to last week. I wouldn’t expect quite so many turnovers. I think we will score some points. But, I can’t help but envision us being down by two scores at some point, and scrambling to come back late in the game. We’re probably looking at a game where we pull it to within one score very late, needing an onside kick recovery that won’t be bouncing our way.
And, by falling to 6-3, that puts us in a VERY dangerous position of being in third place in our own division (assuming the Cards beat the Bills at home). At that point, Seattle is going to be officially renamed Panic City. But, I’m here to say things ARE bound to improve. We follow this Rams game up with a Thursday Night home game against the Cardinals, which will be a Must Win, and one I think we’ll get. From there, it’s the aforementioned 4-spot against the Eagles, Giants, Jets, and Washington; win all those games and we go from 6-3 to 11-3. Then, there’s a Rams home game in late December that will probably be another Must Win (if we want to take the division and the NFC’s top seed). If we can find a way to get that one, and win down in San Francisco in the final week of the season, we’re looking at a 13-3 finish (on the back of a 7-game winning streak). I think that is ABSOLUTELY a reasonable outcome to expect for this season.
It’s always darkest before the dawn, people! I’m pretty sure that guy from that one Batman movie originally said that, so you know it’s true. We just have to get through this rough patch and then it’s
still choppy smooth sailing from here on out! I still believe the Seahawks are a championship-calibre team.
I just don’t think they’re going to look like one this week.