By Ryan Daly – Betting/Denver Broncos Writer
The Los Angeles Rams take a trip up the west coast to Century Link Field for their first divisional game of the season as they take on the Seattle Seahawks in the battle of supremacy for the NFC West. The Rams are coming off a tough 55-40 defeat at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have dropped out of the lead for the NFC West for the first time since head coach Sean McVay took over whilst the Seahawks are coming into this one off a cosy road win at Arizona.
Has Goff got it?
Coming into this year there were some murmurings that teams may be figuring Sean McVay’s offense out. The Bears were the first team to really stifle this offense. Using their own cover-4 concept they were able to take away the deep plays and force the Rams to beat them on the ground or via short passes and long drives, a game plan that the master/Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick saw and utilised to completely shut down the Rams offense in Super Bowl 53.
The vultures are starting to circle around Jared Goff too after he was signed to a four-year $134 million extension in the offseason. After throwing three interceptions on Sunday Goff leads the NFL with six. He also lost a fumble on Sunday meaning he has now put the ball on the ground in all four games this season. He did make some excellent throws on his way to throwing for 517 yards while completing 45 of a huge 68 attempts, an absurd amount of times to ask a QB to throw the ball, however there were also some terrible misses to open receivers as well as the interceptions. Goff is particularly struggling when under pressure, according to Pro Football Focus Goff’s completion percentage drops from 76.7% in a clean pocket to 45.7%, his yards per attempt (YPA) drops from 8.2 to 5.8 when pressured whilst his PFF passing grade drops from 76.0 to 51.0 under pressure.
Goff’s struggles when pressured are even more alarming when you look at the offensive line play of the Rams this year. This unit was one of the best in the NFL over the last two years, however after losing left guard Roger Saffold and center John Sullivan no quarterback has been pressured more times than Jared Goff this year (80). Andrew Whitworth is starting to show his age at 38 years old but it’s the interior of the line that’s been the biggest problem so far with those two key losses – none of the guards have earned a PFF grade over 40 so far this year. Incredibly, the Rams are ranked as the worst offensive line in the league through four games by PFF with a grade of 40.9, yes that’s lower than the Dolphins (42.5).
Russell Wilson doing Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson continues to be an all-world quarterback for the Seahawks. Through four games so far Wilson has completed 97 of 133 passing attempts (72.9%) for 1,141 yards, eight TDs and no interceptions with a QB rating of 118.7 that’s second in the league to only Patrick Mahomes. Wilson’s numbers are made even more impressive by the fact that the Seahawks currently rank 24th in the league on pass play percentage at 56.64%. Wilson has an absolutely beautiful deep ball and has shown to be one of the best downfield passers in the league, according to PFF on passes of 20-plus-yards Wilson is 11/20 for 371 yards, two TDs and an 86.7 PFF passing grade, that is absolutely elite.
In terms of weapons available to Wilson, Tyler Lockett leads the team with 328 yards on 26 receptions including two touchdowns. Chris Carson has been involved in the passing game plenty as well, I don’t give Brian Schottenheimer much credit (if any at all) but he has been utilising the running backs and tight ends smartly to create gaps and mismatches in zone coverage, especially in the red zone. Carson has caught 14 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield whilst TE Will Dissly has 19 receptions for 181 and a league leading four receiving touchdowns.
So what’s the betting?
The Seahawks have an incredible record of 26-5-1 (.828) in primetime games under Pete Carroll, that’s an NFL best win percentage. In those games they have outscored opponents 834-465, going 17-2 at home and 8-1 on Thursday night games. However, I worry about how the Rams offense matches up against the Seahawks defense here. The Seahawks lost slot defender Justin Coleman in the offseason, and to overcome that loss Pete Carroll is using a lot of three LB 4-3 base defense (46.1% of the time, way way above the NFL norm these days). Whilst Carroll has been waxing poetic about this LB group claiming it to be the best he’s ever had, I worry about what McVay can scheme up to attack the LBs in coverage. I really wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams came away with a victory here but for now I’m leaving the spread/moneyline alone.
With regards to matchups on the field, its entirely likely we see Sean McVay get Cooper Kupp matched up on a linebacker A LOT in this game so I’m going back to the well with his receiving yards and taking the over 75.5 that’s available with at 1.83 (Betfair/Paddy Power). He has ecplised that total easily in his last three games and is turning into a true WR1 with 27 targets and 20 catches (222 yards, 3 TDs) in his last two, I’m also adding him to score a TD at 2.38 (Betfair/Skybet).
I like the over 2.5 receptions on Chris Carson too at even money (Betfair), as mentioned earlier the Seahawks have got Carson involved in the passing game plenty and he’s covered this total in three out of four games so far. This next one is a bit of a punt but I’m having a bit on David Moore to score anytime at 7/1 with Unibet. He is still working his way back from a shoulder injury but his snap count has gradually increased towards 50% over the last two weeks and I think this Rams secondary is vulnerable to a big play or two, worth a shot
Cooper Kupp over 75.5 receiving yards (1.83)
Kupp TD (2.38)
Carson over 2.5 receptions (evs)
David Moore anytime TD (7/1)
(Feature Photo – Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)