Happy Blue Friday, 12s! This week the Seattle Seahawks travel to Los Angeles to take on last year’s divisional champions Rams. I will be attending since I am semi-local due to living in San Diego. Therefore, if you are going to be there, make sure you hit me up on Twitter @BaseballDudeMan to crash my tailgate if the weather allows for it.
The Seahawks are facing another pivotal game with seeding implications. Luckily, the 49ers travel to New Orleans to take on a tough team in the Saints. If the 49ers lose and the Seahawks win, it will give Seattle a much-needed cushion in the NFC West.
For some reason, I have an unsettling feeling about playing the Rams in Los Angeles. The Seahawks are 4-6 in the last 10 meetings against the Rams dating back to 2014 and have dropped 4 of 5 when traveling to St. Louis / Los Angeles. However, this is football…sports.
Anything can happen!
I have taken a deep dive into the statistics for both teams. I will make some predictions of what to look out for, especially vulnerabilities for both teams.
Offensively, the Seahawks put up an NFL third best 390.2 yards per game, but the Rams are on their heels at nearly 370 per game. Both teams seem to have fumbling problems and the Seahawks are the fourth-worst team. Chris Carson leads all RBs with six and Todd Gurley has three. The Seahawks are above average on third down conversions where the Rams are median in that category.
Defensively for the same categories, the Seahawks are generous to opposing offenses. They surrender nearly 369 yards per game and allow around 21 first downs per game. However, they are stingy when it comes to allowing opposing offenses from converting third downs at a rate of 36%. The Rams seem to have the defensive edge, yet they still surrender over 300 yards per game to opponents while allowing just a shade over 20 first downs per game on average. The Seahawks, though, tend to cause opponents to turn over the football, forcing opponents to fumble 22 times this season, which is second-best in the league.
Now let’s look at rushing offense and defense for both teams.
The Seahawks, unbelievably, are a premier rushing team.
They rush early and often.
Seattle averages nearly 144 yards per game on the ground while tallying 12 touchdowns—a third-best in the NFL. The Rams score touchdowns using the ground game, but the rushing numbers are lackluster—under the century mark on average. They rank 25th in the league. The 14 touchdowns likely come from goal line touches and QB sneaks. I have not dug too deep but low rushing yards and a high TD rate is indicative of this theory.
For the Seahawks, Chris Carson is averaging 81.8 yards per game and his longest run is a 59-yarder. He has five rushing touchdowns to his name this season. He is coming off 102-yard rushing campaign against good Minnesota defensive front. He was also able to put up 105 yards against a very tough Tampa Bay defense in Week 9. I do not expect his rushing to waiver. He will continue to pound the ball forward against any defense.
We cannot forget about Rashaad Penny. The sophomore player out of San Diego State has started to establish himself as an elusive running back. The tandem of Carson and Penny is beginning to become one of the best RB duos in the NFL. Penny, in the last two outings, has scored 3 total touchdowns while putting up 129 rushing yards against the Eagles in Week 12 and had 107 total yards and two touchdowns last Monday against the Vikings. I expect him to play a large role this week.
The Seahawks have played defenses that are stout against the running game and have had success. The Steelers, Buccaneers, Saints, Eagles, and Ravens were all top-10 rushing defenses and the Seahawks have rushed for 151, 145, 108, 174, and 106 yards respectively.
I did some quick math. These five teams average an allowance of 91 YPG. The Seahawks averaged 136.8 yards against these teams. This is a difference of 45.8 yards. Therefore, I will estimate the Seahawks will rush for roughly 145 (+/- 10) yards this weekend against the Rams who give up 104 ground yards per game this season.
For the Rams, Todd Gurley averages 58.4 yards per game but has eight touchdowns to his name. His longest run of the season is 25 yards. For Gurley, the low YPG but eight touchdowns cement my theory that they only use him often near the goal line. Therefore, I hope Seattle is able to limit the Rams’ time in the red zone. In two of his last three outings, he averaged over 90 yards on the ground. However, he was limited to only 6 attempts for 22 yards against Baltimore in Week 12. I expect the Seattle defensive front to limit his running game and my guess is that he will rush for roughly 75 yards and a touchdown.
Finally, to finish up with statistics, we will look at passing statistics.
One thing that is easy to notice is that both teams are top-10 with passing YPG, where Seattle is tied with Baltimore for the most touchdowns through the air. Considering the Seahawks surrender 269.3 passing yards per game, expect the Rams to exploit that. Seattle is in the bottom three in the league in that category. The Rams, however, have a decent secondary led by Jalen Ramsey coupled with a defensive front led by Aaron Donald. The Seahawks have done better in recent weeks with the addition of Quandre Diggs. Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin have also stepped up to make impressive plays in the secondary.
I do not expect the Seattle defensive front to get to Jared Goff since he seems to elude sacks. On both sides of the ball for Seattle, sacks are an issue. Offensively, Russell Wilson has been sacked 35 times while defensively they have tallied only 23 sacks. The Rams have sacked opposing QBs 38 times where Goff has only been sacked 19.
While Russell does not throw as much as Goff, he is more accurate with a 67.4% completion rate. Goff, however, has thrown 13 picks this season and Seattle’s defense has picked off opposing QBs 11 times. I expect this trend to continue on Sunday and the Seahawks should come away with an interception.
As for primary receivers, Tyler Lockett has come off a few poor outings, with illness and injury partially to blame. Since he exploded for 152 yards against Tampa in Week 9, he has been limited to only 4 catches with 67 total yards and zero touchdowns since that performance five weeks ago.
The same holds true for Cooper Kupp. Since his 220-yard performance in Week 8 against Cincinnati, the Yakima native and Eastern Washington University product has only 38 yards per game and a single touchdown, which came last week against the Cardinals. He coughed up the ball twice against the Bears in Week 11.
Overall, I expect another close matchup between these two division rivals. Currently, the Seahawks look and play like the better football team, even though they have only been winning football games by a small margin. Goff has been careless with the football and the running game has not been too successful for the Rams this season. Conversely, the Seahawks have been pushing the ball down the field using both the pass and rush. I am still a little bit on the fence when it comes to Seattle’s secondary. While they have shown significant improvement, they still seem to give up big plays, as they did last week against the Vikings. Goff will air it out so the Seahawks should be able to take advantage of any mistakes he may make.
As for injuries, the Seahawks do have T Duane Brown, CB Neiko Thorpe, TE Jacob Hollister, LB Mychal Kendricks who all were limited or did not participate in practice. I expect Brown, Hollister, and Kendricks to play Sunday. A list of players who are out will be posted to @CascadiaSN when it becomes available.
I am excited to attend this game this weekend. I hope that the weather holds up and the Seahawks can come away with a much needed W. If you are also coming to the game, let us know on our Twitter @CascadiaSN or by hitting me up @BaseballDudeMan! I will be live Tweeting from the game so make sure to give us both a follow!