There is little debate that the most talented division in the National Football League is the NFC West. This division has produced the two most recent conference winners, the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl to complete the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
The NFC West leading Seattle Seahawks do battle with second place Los Angeles on Sunday, and the home team needs a win to catch Seattle in the standings. The Seahawks were one of the last teams to fall from the unbeaten ranks, only the Pittsburgh Steelers are still perfect on the season, when Seattle lost at Arizona against the Cardinals three weeks ago. In that game, the Seahawks led the entire way until the Cardinals kicked the winning field goal to complete the overtime period.
But, while we acknowledge Pete Carroll’s squad as one of the league’s elite teams, we also had questions even before their first loss of how they were winning with a defense ranked near the bottom of the league, in fact, they have allowed more passing yards than any team in the NFL.
Turns out, they compensate for a suspect defense with a quarterback that simply refuses to lose. I think it can be argued that no team is more reliant on their quarterback than Seattle, and it might be that if Russell Wilson wasn’t in charge of the Seahawks attack, they might be no more than an average squad with a mere mortal behind center.
We’ve all seen Wilson turn plays that appeared doomed to failure into Seattle touchdowns. His scrambles never seem haphazard, but rather part of a play that often results in big chunks of yardage for his high flying Seahawks.
Therefore, with Wilson running the offense, the Seahawks losing back-to-back games seems on the surface unlikely.
The Los Angeles Rams are in the midst of a season that from a year-to-year trend promises to be a successful one. Last year, the Rams tumbled from the elite teams after winning the conference the year before. It is common for a team that loses the Super Bowl one year to have a disappointing campaign the following season. The Rams paid the price for their 2018 success with a season last year more full of excuses than a fourth grader that didn’t do his homework.
The preseason was spent trying to convince critics that one-time Pro Bowl runner Todd Gurley was ready to have a big year after injuries and seemingly other problems derailed the final weeks of his 2018 campaign. His ineffectiveness was one of the reasons why the Rams once potent offense was held out of the endzone while the New England Patriots and Rams combined for the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history.
This year, the Rams have parted ways with Gurley, he now works out of the Atlanta Falcons backfield, and fifth year quarterback Jared Goff has recaptured the efficiency that marked his Super Bowl season.
The Rams also have the most dominant defensive player in the game with Aaron Donald.
While the Seahawks don’t appear a likely candidate to lose two straight games, neither do the Rams. Los Angeles last played two weeks ago in Miami and were upset by the Dolphins. In other words, we have two quality NFC West opponents meeting with each team coming off a loss, but the Rams have a couple huge edges off their defeat.
First, they have had two weeks to prepare for this game, and second, they come into action on Sunday one game behind the Seahawks in the standings. It is more difficult when two quality teams meet for one team to pull two games up than the other team catching them in the standings.
This is catch-up time.
Qoxhi Picks: Los Angeles Rams (-2½) over Seattle Seahawks