In the first meeting between these two NFC West rivals, the Los Angeles Rams barely eked out a 33-31 victory in Seattle, underscoring just how tough it is to win at Century Link Field. Despite being heavy favorites, the Rams faced a feisty, game opponent in the Seahawks in week 5. [Insert Rudy Tomjanovich “heart of a champion” meme here]
Flash-forward to Week 10. The Rams are 8-1, and should be highly motivated coming off their first loss. Seattle is 4-4, and fighting for their playoff lives behind a surprisingly strong running game. Can the Rams take care of business in more convincing fashion at home?
Here are five Rams to pay close attention to in Sunday’s rematch.
AKA Mob Squad Public Enemy Number One. Yes, I’m getting tired of writing about this guy just as much as you’re getting tired of reading about and commenting on him. I was at the game in Seattle in the nosebleed section and able to see the entire field, where I witnessed Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett burn this man repeatedly off of play action and double-moves. Simply put: he’s got to play better, keep his eyes on his man and out of the backfield, and at least play some semblance of coverage. I know we’re all looking forward to seeing CB Aqib Talib return in a few weeks, but with home field and seeding coming into focus, a few solid weeks from the mercurial CB would go a long way towards repairing what has become a fractured relationship.
OLB Dante Fowler
Perhaps I’m just starved for pressure off the edge, but I came away fairly pleased with Fowler’s week 9 performance against the Saints. He brought some physicality and presence, generated some QB pressures, and was generally sound against the run. At the very least, he’s a player other teams must now account for, and that in and of itself will aid both the Rams’ interior linemen and our beleaguered secondary. Look for Dante’s Inferno to crank up the heat on Sunday with a larger share of snaps and a better understanding of the defense. I’m looking for a strip sack, scoop, and score. Otherwise, cut him. KIDDING. I kid.
Cooks was injured on a vicious (dirty?) hit by Seattle S Tedric Thompson in the first matchup. His line for the day read 0 catches for 0 yards, as Cooper Kupp slid over to WR2 and Josh Reynolds manned the slot (before Kupp’s own concussion protocol situation developed). Although 31 points is nothing to sneeze at, you have to believe a healthy Cooks would have aided the Rams offense that day and perhaps given the team a little more cushion than a Cairo Santos wobbler. Hopefully, Cooks can exact a little John Wick-level payback for the rude treatment he received at the CLINK.
Though his snap counts remain relatively low compared to TE Tyler Higbee, Young Gerald is finally starting to flash a little bit on the field and in the box score, with 3 catches for 48 yards (and a sweet 2-point conversion) last week against the Saints. It’s a shame there’s only one football, as this kid is a YAC beast when given opportunities in the passing game. Presumably, Tyler Higbee continues to get the lion’s share of snaps due to his superior blocking skills, not because he drops dimes from Goff like he did last week in New Orleans. Hopefully, Everett’s emergence is a trend and not an anomaly, as his physical presence could aid the Rams in the red zone and in short-yardage situations. Fly, Young Gerald, fly!
A few weeks into the season, I stood atop a mountain and proclaimed “Suh is worth every penny!” He was getting pressures and sacks in timely situations, helping stuff the run, and living up to the “prized FA acquisition” moniker. Lately, not so much. In the first Seattle game, Seattle RBs Chris Carson and Mike Davis combined for 184 yards rushing, and while it has since been proven that the SeaChickens ground game is formidable, at the time it was downright embarrassing. At $14M, you do expect to see more of an impact from the big fella, and while he’s been solid, you can pay $7M for solid. Whether or not Carson plays on Sunday, it sure would be nice to see 93 and 99 shut down the Seattle ground game en route to an easy victory in LA.
EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
I’ll throw in an honorable mention here. If he suits up on Sunday, yep, he’s definitely a Ram to watch. I’ll reiterate the tempered expectations motif here — 5th round pick, coming off a broken foot and no training camp. You can’t teach explosiveness, but you also can’t replicate real NFL action from the practice field.