By Danny Cox
The Seattle Seahawks hoped to pick up their ninth win of the season Sunday against the struggling Green Bay Packers, but that didn’t happen. The Seahawks were routed 38-10. Much of the blame fell on Russell Wilson’s shoulders (and his arm); the QB threw five interceptions and was sacked three times.
The Los Angeles Rams didn’t do any better in Week 14, losing 42-14 to the Atlanta Falcons. And the game wasn’t even that close; the Rams scored two late touchdowns well after it was effectively over. The team found itself at 4-9, and head coach Jeff Fisher soon found himself out of a job. Fisher was fired on Monday in what Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ COO and VP for Football Operations, said was “solely a performance-related issue.”
It wasn’t a good week in general for the lackluster NFC West. The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers both lost close and very winnable games.
The Seahawks and Rams aren’t necessarily going in entirely different directions, but only one has something left to play for this season. The Seahawks sit atop the division and don’t face much of a threat, barring an absolute breakdown over the final three games. One more win will secure the division title.
John Fassel, the Rams special teams coach and son of legendary NFL coach Jim Fassel, will lead the Rams for the final three games of the season. They’ll be playing for pride and their jobs next season, as the playoffs are out of reach. But the Rams would love nothing more than to hurt the Seahawks’ postseason chances. There’s no love lost between these two teams, even around the holidays.
The Rams defeated the Seahawks earlier this season in a low-scoring 9-3 contest, and have won the teams’ last three games against each other. But they’re also coming off their eighth loss in their last nine games. During that stretch, they’ve given up at least 30 points twice and at least 40 points two more times.
Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff has played in four games, with his best outing a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints. In that game, he threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. But in his last two games, he’s managed just one touchdown against four interceptions. That production won’t improve in Seattle, against what’s still one of the NFL’s better defenses, even without safety Earl Thomas.
Russell Wilson is coming off of one of the worst games of his professional career, but the whole team looked off in that loss to the Packers. Aaron Rodgers picked apart a defense still trying to fill the hole that Thomas left.
While the loss came at one of the worst possible times for Seattle, the team can’t dwell on it. The short week should leave little time for looking back, only looking ahead. (Richard Sherman may feel differently.) Lucky for them Jared Goff is no Aaron Rodgers, and the rudderless Rams are not the still potent Packers. Rams running back Todd Gurley, however, should not be underestimated.
Knowing the Seahawks attitude and fortitude, it’s likely they’ll be extra-prepared for this NFC West foe. That’s not good news for an inexperienced Rams team, filled with rookies in key roles and led by an interim coach. The Rams would like to avoid yet another loss, but it would be a win for them to avoid the route. Look for this game to seem reasonably close on the scoreboard but not at all close on the field.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 28 – Los Angeles Rams 13
Danny Cox has been covering the NFL for the past decade and has been watching it for two more. From injury reports to playoff races, he follows every single team and longs for the months of July to February.