Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks: Matchups, prediction for Thursday’s NFC West showcase

Thursday Night Football features the Los Angeles Rams vs. the Seattle Seahawks. Expect a shootout in this Week 5 NFC West matchup.

Thursday Night Football in Week 5 features the Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams in a matchup of four of the NFC West’s last five champions. The Seahawks snapped a two-game losing streak with a 28-21 win over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. The Rams, meanwhile, look to bounce back after getting dominated by the Cardinals 37-20 in Week 4.

Los Angeles Rams offense vs. Seattle Seahawks defense

Sean McVay finally has the passing attack he’s always coveted. Before Monday’s game, the Rams ranked third in yards per pass (8.8) and third-down efficiency (54.4%), fourth in yards per play (6.6), and fifth in passing offense (298.3). Los Angeles also ranks seventh in points per game (28.8) — up nearly a touchdown over 2020.

Seattle’s defense, meanwhile, has been uncharacteristically generous. Opposing teams have gained a staggering 444.5 yards per game thus far. That’s the most in the NFL by nearly 7 yards. The only thing keeping Seattle from giving up a 40-burger every week? A top-10 red-zone defense that has allowed touchdowns on just 47.1% of opponents’ trips inside the 20-yard line.

Matthew Stafford vs. Seahawks defense

Matthew Stafford was smart to not only extract himself from the Detroit Lions but find a very soft landing place in Los Angeles. He’s on track to set career highs in completion percentage (68.1%), touchdown percentage (8.1%), yards per attempt (9.1), passer rating (117.6), and QBR (117.6). A big reason for his success? His sack rate (2.2%) is the lowest in football.

On the other side, the Seahawks have surrendered 347 passing yards to Ryan Tannehill, 323 to Kirk Cousins, and 322 to Jimmy Garoppolo/Trey Lance in the last three weeks. Seattle ranks 28th in passing yards allowed (292.5), 29th in interception rate (0.64%), and last in first downs allowed (26.8 per game).

Advantage: Stafford

Rams weapons vs. Seahawks defensive backs

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp is second among all NFC wide receivers in receiving (107.8 yards per game), and his 5 touchdown catches lead the NFL through Sunday’s games. Stafford has a clear comfort level with Kupp, targeting him 21 more times more than any other Rams player. As for Robert Woods, he might not even be WR2 in Los Angeles. Van Jefferson, a second-year wideout taken in the second round, has emerged this fall. He’s averaging 17.4 yards per catch and has 2 touchdowns.

The Rams should feast against a Seahawks secondary that coach Pete Carroll believed needed a shakeup heading into Week 4. Carroll benched Tre Flowers for Sidney Jones IV after opposing quarterbacks torched Flowers in the first three games (75% completion percentage, 134.9 passer rating against). Jones played every snap against the Cardinals. Seattle’s other starting corner, D.J. Reed, has been decent but not great. Safety Jamal Adams has been a bit of liability in pass coverage and hasn’t forced a turnover since signing a four-year. $70 million contract extension.

Advantage: Rams

Rams offensive line vs. Seahawks defensive front

Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth is an ageless wonder, still playing at a high level just two months shy of his 40th birthday. In fact, the Whitworth-David Edwards-Brian Allen combo might be the best LT-LG-C trio in football. The Rams have allowed Stafford to be hit just 16 times in 138 non-scrambling dropbacks. If there is an area where one could quibble with this line, it’s in run blocking. The Rams’ 3.8 yards per carry ranks 21st in the NFL.

The Seahawks will roll out the solid tandem of Kerry Hyder-Poona Ford-Al Woods, and potentially could get back edge defender Benson Mayowa, who missed the last two games with a neck injury. The Seahawks allow the second-most rushing yards in football (152 per game) and linebacker Jordyn Brooks has been torched in coverage (allowing 72.2% of balls thrown his way to be completed with a 128.2 passer rating).

Advantage: Rams

Seattle Seahawks offense vs. Los Angeles Rams defense

It’s hard to square Sunday’s stats (a nearly 2-to-1 49ers advantage in yards gained) with the score (a 7-point ‘Hawks victory). The Seahawks won despite converting just 2-of-10 third downs and averaging 4.3 yards per play. Seattle’s first five drives all ended with three-and-outs. Plus starting running back Chris Carson is in danger of missing Thursday’s game with a neck injury.

Smoke and mirrors might not be enough against a more talented defense this week. The Rams give up yards, but they’re really good at situational football, ranking in the top 10 in red-zone defense (56.3%) and goal-to-go defense (58.3%). Meanwhile, Los Angeles is tied for 14th in turnovers forced (4).

Russell Wilson vs. Rams defense

What can we say about Russell Wilson’s greatness at this point? He leads the NFL in passer rating (129.9), interception percentage (0.0%), yards per attempt (9.6), adjusted yards per pass attempt (11.2), and adjusted net yards per pass attempt (9.6). His bad throw rate (12.5%) is fantastic. And he’s accounted for 78.7% of Seattle’s entire offensive output this year.

The Rams’ pass defense has been surprisingly generous this year, ranking 25th in yards surrendered but just 13th in yards per pass (6.7). After leading the NFL in scoring defense in 2020, Los Angeles is down to 19th at the season’s quarter pole, surrendering 24.8 points per game.

Advantage: Wilson

Seahawks weapons vs. Rams defensive backs

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better 1-2 receiving punch than Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Lockett should be on the NFL’s all-underrated list. Playing in the Pacific Northwest obscures just how good he is. Lockett had 28 touchdowns over the past three years and already has 3 more in 2021, plus he’s averaging 16.7 yards per catch. Metcalf is the ultimate X receiver and can run like a gazelle.

Even with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the Rams’ secondary can be exploited. Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman went for 123 yards on 8 catches in Week 2. Mike Evans rang them up for 106 on 8 receptions in Week 3. The safeties have been Los Angeles’ weak link on the back end. Jordan Fuller and Taylor Rapp together have given up 12 yards per target and 76.7% completions for a passer rating of 126.9.

Advantage: Seahawks

Seahawks offensive line vs. Rams front seven

Seattle hasn’t run it a ton this year, but when it has, the team has been quite efficient. The Seahawks’ 4.7 yards per rush is eighth in the NFL. Sacks are again an issue — they rank 27th with a 10.1% sack rate — but part of that is a function of Wilson holding onto the ball 2.67 seconds per dropback. Thanks to Carson, Seattle’s run game has flourished despite tailback Rashaad Penny logging just 7 snaps this year. Right tackle Brandon Shell is banged up, but Cedric Ogbuehi is healthy after a stint on IR.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Los Angeles is its run defense. The Rams surrendered 216 yards rushing and 5.4 yards per carry to the Cardinals — and it wasn’t a matter of Kyler Murray running wild. Instead, it was Chase Edmonds crushing the Rams front for 120 yards on 10 carries. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald remains a force, although his sacks (2.0), tackles for loss (3), and pressures (8) are far off last year’s pace. Edge defender Leonard Floyd has 3 sacks and 5 quarterback hits on the year.

Advantage: Push

Betting line and game prediction

The Seahawks are rare home underdogs but we get why they’re receiving a point and a half. While Lumen Field remains a tough place to play, the Seahawks have already lost at home this year and they’re the inferior team. Seattle has a whopping minus-94.3 yard differential in 2021, fifth-worst in the NFL. We expect fireworks, but the Rams won’t lose two straight.

Prediction: Rams 35, Seahawks 31

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