The Los Angeles Rams are one of two remaining undefeated NFL teams, using their offense and the arm of quarterback Jared Goff to produce a 4-0 record and the league’s top offense in terms of yards per game.
No one has to tell the Seattle Seahawks how potent the Rams’ attack is, because the Rams throttled the Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle in Week 15 last season. The Seahawks will try to have a better showing on Sunday when they host the Rams again at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks (2-2) have won their last two games, and they are not focusing on last season’s loss.
“I don’t think you think about the margin of victory,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said while reflecting on last year’s disastrous loss. “You understand when anybody comes in and wins on your home field, it doesn’t really feel good. Especially for me, it’s one of those games where I wasn’t completely healthy. I was definitely looking forward to playing them again.”
Wagner was bothered by a hamstring injury when the teams met last season.
Handling the Rams’ offense, which is second in the NFL in scoring (35.0 points per game) behind only Kansas City, will remain a major chore for the Seahawks.
Goff has established career highs across the board each of the past two weeks. His performance against the Minnesota Vikings in last week’s Thursday night game, in which he threw for 465 yards and five touchdowns and notched a remarkable 158.3 passer rating, was a major statement on national television against a team that figures to be a Super Bowl contender.
The Rams have scored more than 30 points in each of the first four games. That includes 38 points against a Vikings team that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense a year ago.
“It feels good. It feels really good,” Goff said. “I think you work for that. It’s what you strive for. When we got into that rhythm, into that zone early on in that first half it felt really good. Then, I think in the second half it took us a minute to get back into it, but we’re really clicking right now and I feel good about where we’re at and we have a lot of season ahead of us.”
Goff was the star against the Vikings.
“He’s done an excellent job, really, on all three downs and when we’ve had a chance to go for it on fourth down,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “I think it’s a credit to being able to have some balance. You really look at it, I want to say — in terms of our self-scout where we’re taking it off, where it’s those normal down-and-distances — we try to stay balanced if that’s what the look dictates. Guys are making plays, we’re protecting well and I think he’s throwing the ball outstanding with the anticipation and accuracy. He’s understanding what we’re trying to get done and you’re seeing him play really confident.”
Goff has taken some of the attention away from running back Todd Gurley II, who was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year last season and is fourth in the league in rushing this season, averaging 84.5 yards per game.
The Rams already have a two-game lead over the second-place Seahawks in the NFC West, and a victory in Seattle on Sunday would put them in firm control of the division just five games into the season.
CenturyLink Field has been considered one of the toughest venues for opposing teams, but the Seahawks lost four of their last five home games last season, including the blowout loss to the Rams.
Seattle won its only home game so far this season, against the Dallas Cowboys, and needs to win Sunday to stay close in the division.
The Seahawks’ defense was hurt by the loss of safety Earl Thomas, who fractured his right tibia during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-17 win in Arizona.
“We’re not gonna change the formula of what we believe in playing good defense and that starts playing up front and then you gotta stay on top and then you work from there,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said on Wednesday. “They have really been bombing people and they’ve made a lot of big plays, particularly last week you see them just striking [downfield]. … We can’t let that happen.”
Carroll indicated stopping Gurley would take precedence, and it can be seen why. In last year’s lopsided defeat, Gurley rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns and caught three passes for 28 yards and another score.
The other component for the Rams is wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who is third in the NFL in receiving yards with 452.
The Rams have been effective on defense as well, ranking ninth in the league in total defense, yielding 333.5 yards per game.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passed for just 142 yards in last year’s lopsided loss to the Rams.
The Seahawks will try to keep Los Angeles’ offense off the field by establishing a running game that has been productive the past two weeks.
Mike Davis had 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week against the Cardinals, and Chris Carson had 102 yards on the ground in the previous week’s victory over Dallas.
Carroll realizes the challenge increases this week.
“[Ndamukong] Suh is right there on the center and he’s a big-time player. Aaron [Donald] is a fantastic player and [Michael] Brockers is really big-time. They’ve moved him to play five-technique for them and it’s worked out really well,” Carroll said. “With the running game, if we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to work those guys and block them and get some space on the line of scrimmage.”