When the Seattle Seahawks come to Los Angeles on Sunday to face the LA Rams, they’ll be in an unfamiliar position: looking up at the first-place Rams in the NFC West standings. Sunday’s battle offers the Rams a chance to prove they can compete for their first division crown since 2003.
The LA Rams have gotten off to a second consecutive 3-1 start thanks to a revamped offense under new head coach Sean McVay and the dominance of running back Todd Gurley, who has rediscovered the form that made him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015.
Despite the strong start, Rams fans have been tampering expectations, as last season’s 3-1 team went on to lose 11 of their last 12, including seven straight losses to close the season. The good news is that this Rams team has shown great improvement from last year, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
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The Rams will need to be able to move the ball against Seattle’s Legion of Boom defensive unit if they want to control the game. Defenses have started to respect second-year quarterback Jared Goff, who has already surpassed 1,000 yards passing through four games this season. Goff’s improvement has allowed for Todd Gurley to have much more space in the ground game.
A big reason for Goff’s success is because of the new weapons that Sean McVay brought in to help Goff have reliable targets to throw to. Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods will all be keys to success against an experienced Seattle defense.
On defense, the Rams have had trouble stopping opposing offenses the past two weeks against San Francisco and Dallas. Seattle boasts a balanced offense led by quarterback Russell Wilson who is always a threat to make a play with his arm or his feet. Los Angeles linebackers will need to be wary of Wilson’s legs when he rolls out of the pocket.
In the running game, Seattle hasn’t gotten as much production as it expected when they signed former second-round pick Eddie Lacy. However, rookie Chris Carson has emerged as the leader of the backfield, and it’ll be up to Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams defensive line to limit his yards.
In a matchup of two evenly-matched teams, the game could be decided on special teams. The Rams relied on Greg Zuerlein for seven field goals last week against Dallas, and punter Johnny Hekker always seems to help the Rams win the field position battle.
It’s a matchup between the NFL’s youngest and oldest coach when former USC coach Pete Carroll returns to his old home to face golden boy Sean McVay. In what should be a competitive game, Todd Gurley is the difference as he helps the Rams control the second half.