NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Power Play
by Dennis Ranahan

Since 2012, the year the Seattle Seahawks drafted quarterback Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll’s team has been a threat to win the Super Bowl. They did once, to complete the 2013 season, and advanced to a second consecutive Super Bowl in 2014 in a game that ended with the goal line interception that handed the win to the New England Patriots.

During this same seven year period, until last season, the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams were one of the worst teams in the league. Then, in 2017, the Rams vaulted from the bottom rungs of the league to an opening week playoff bye.

Now, while the Seahawks were a power and the Rams struggled, an interesting thing happened when these two NFC West teams met … talent didn’t decide the game. Even while compiling losing records, the Rams always gave the Seahawks all they could handle. In fact, in his career, Wilson has lost as often to the Rams as he has beaten them, six wins and six losses.

Against the point spread in those same dozen games, the Rams have an overall edge with 8 wins and 4 losses, including a 5-0 mark when getting points at home.

Today, Wilson is still the man behind center for Seattle. But, his offensive line is a swinging gate for oncoming rushers and close observers of the Seahawks come away from games shaking their heads and muttering, “He can’t do it all by himself.”

They are right. Football is a team game, and while a top notch quarterback is a requirement for a squad expecting to advance in the postseason, an offensive line is what John Madden referred to as, “The most important position on the field.”

A strong offensive line can dictate a game. Protecting their quarterback for pass attempts and opening holes for runningbacks. A great front on offense can also control the pace of a game, either running clock with a consistent ground attack or stretching a defense while giving time for deep patterns to develop.

Without a strong offensive line an NFL team is too often at the mercy of their more talented opponents.

Yet, in their Super Bowl seasons, the ticket into the big game for Seattle revolved around their shutdown defense. Today, the Seahawks defense is but a shadow of what it was just a few years ago. Many of their former star players are either too old to perform at top proficiency, on to other rosters, or, and this is a big loss, injured like the season ending setback Earl Thomas suffered last week.

Okay, what do we have here?

We’ve got a Seattle team that is closer to being the worst team in the league than the best. And we have the Rams, which through four weeks of this season appear the early favorite to win it all.

Los Angeles can score on opponents on the ground or through the air, and their defense is among the best in football. A Rams squad that played the Seahawks tough when they were overmatched and now are the better of these two teams.

What does that mean?

It means the Rams will come out of Seattle with both a convincing win and easy point spread cover.

Qoxhi Picks: Los Angeles Rams (-7) over Seattle Seahawks