Here we go. The Seattle Seahawks are back in the playoffs and it is going to be a good one as they will face their division rival, the Los Angeles Rams, in the Wild Card round on Saturday. The Rams have had an up and down season but ultimately secured a spot in the playoffs last Sunday with a win over the Cardinals. They did it without Jared Goff and they may be without him again on Saturday against the Seahawks which would be a massive boost for this team.
According to Ian Rappaport, it seems unlikely that Goff can play and that means the game will be handed to John Wolford who started the game on Sunday.
“On the #Rams & QB Jared Goff: While no one has ruled Goff out for Saturday vs. the #Seahawks, it’s expected to be challenging for him to play. He was able to throw Sunday, which is good. But 12 days after thumb surgery, in the cold, it’ll be difficult. Could be more John Wolford.”
For the Seahawks, it’s tough to imagine a better draw for them than this. They get to skip over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs and the Bucs are hot. They’ve scored 40 points or more in their last two games and that’s not a matchup that this Seahawks defense wanted. On top of that, the Bucs have one of the top rush defenses in the league and taking away Chris Carson is a no-go for this Seattle team.
The Rams present a perfect opportunity for Seattle. They split the season series with them but when they played just two weeks ago, Seattle won 20-9 and that was with Goff under center. The biggest concern that Seattle will have to face is getting their offense jump started against a Rams defense that is impressive and can create a ton of pressure from up front.
Russell Wilson hasn’t exactly played his best against the Rams this season. In the first game they played, Wilson threw for 248 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. The worst part about that performance was that Wilson was sacked six times for a loss of 18 yards. With Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd each ending the season in double-digit sacks, you can expect the Rams to bring the pressure yet again in this one. In the second performance against the Rams, Wilson played better, throwing for 225 yards and a touchdown but was still sacked five times and lost 28 yards.
Despite playing well in two games against the Hawks, Jalen Ramsey said they didn’t play well enough in that second contest although you could point to LA’s offense as the reason they lost. That’s scary stuff coming from a guy who is motivated to win as it shows they are always looking to improve.
“We all got to play better as a team. But defense wins championships. And if we want to be successful and be who we say we are — the No. 1 defense — we got to take accountability ourselves.”
So we know how the matchups shook out the last two times but now let’s focus on this playoff matchup and the critical things to look for. It is apparent that the way the Seahawks win this game is by getting their offense back. Let’s forget about what the Rams bring defensively and just talk about offense. It’s no secret that this unit isn’t playing at the level that they once were in the beginning of the year.
In their first eight games of the season, the Seahawks scored 30 or more points in seven of those contests. Wilson was looking like a dead runaway for the MVP and defenses didn’t have an answer. But then something changed and they haven’t looked like that since. In the final eight weeks of the season, this team scored more than 30 just one time and that came against a New York Jets team that is hard to describe as an actual football team. Here’s what Pete Carroll said after the game Sunday when his offense scored just six points in the first half against San Francisco.
“It’s a little frustrating as you guys are wondering about it, but I’m not worried about it,” Pete Carroll said postgame. “We’re going to keep playing and try to play really good football. “There’s a patience to it that nobody wants to see but we’re feeling OK about it,” Carroll said in regard to playing against standout defenses. “We just have to make sure we come out of it, and we get the points we need to win.”
The Days of “Let Russ Cook” seem to be over and it’s hard to figure out why, but we know in this game against Los Angeles, they are going to need to dive into the playbook and make something happen. Brian Schottenheimer isn’t on the hot seat but he is in need of answering some questions, especially as to why Seattle went more than 35 minutes on Sunday without moving the chains.
Keys to the Game for Seattle:
Pressure Wolford: Wolford played okay against the Arizona Cardinals but this is a guy with little to no experience in the NFL and now he is most likely going to start in a playoff game. Seattle ranked 7th in the league in sacks in 2020 and Wolford was sacked just twice against Arizona. If the Hawks can bring the pressure, they are going to get this rookie QB out of his comfort level, which is a must in this game. Expect the blitz to be sent early and often to set the tone for Wolford and expect this Rams defense to rely heavily on the run.
LET RUSS COOK: I don’t know what has happened over the last eight weeks of the season but I do know that it isn’t the Russell Wilson and the offense that was supposed to yield him an MVP trophy. The Seahawks have to get creative with this offense and find a way to change things up or it will be an early and embarrassing exit.
Focus on this Week: This is one of the easiest things for an NFL team to do when it comes to the playoffs. Teams that are favored like the Hawks have a tendency to get ahead of themselves on the schedule and look forward to the following week. This Rams team may be without guys like Jared Goff but they still have a killer defense and enough weapons on offense to make the Hawks pay in a “trap game” way.
This is the moment we have been waiting for since Week 1 and Seattle truly is catching a break getting to play this game at home and without Jared Goff on the field for the Rams. Seattle is 7-1 at home this year, making them one of the most dominant home-teams in the league and they should be able to take care of business in Round 1. I like this team by more than a touchdown given the way LA moved the ball last week.
Rams 17 Seattle 28