Following their win over Arizona on November 6th, Seattle needed just one more win to match their win total from a year ago. With calendar pages turning to December this week, Seattle is still looking for their seventh win of the season.
A disaster of a game against Tampa Bay in Germany sent Seattle on their bye week with a 6-4 record and the Las Vegas Raiders coming to town in week 12. Seattle opened the game with an interception of Raiders QB Derek Carr, and Kenneth Walker III found the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead. A back and forth shootout ensued, and the halftime score was a whopping 24-20 in favor of the visitors. Seattle opened the second half retaking the lead on Walker’s second touchdown of the day and held a 34-27 lead late in the 4th quarter. The Raiders scored a touchdown to tie the game and gave Seattle the ball back with less than two minutes remaining.
A 12-yard pass to DK Metcalf gave Seattle a first down at their own 47-yard line with just under a minute to play, but after a lengthy review, the officials overturned the catch. Geno Smith was sacked on the next play, and Seattle punted. The Raiders opted to kill the remaining time and go to overtime, where they received the ball first. A promising drive ended on a missed field goal, and Seattle got the ball back and the chance to win the game with any score. Seattle went three and out and punted the ball back to Vegas, who needed just one play by Josh Jacobs to win the game on an 86-yard touchdown run.
Heading into week 13, Seattle is in second place in the NFC West and currently a game behind the Washington Commanders in the race for the #7 seed in the playoffs. Seattle has six games remaining and needs to win at least four of them to have a shot at a playoff spot. Sure a 9-8 team might make it in, but that seems unlikely, as the teams in front of them have seven wins already.
Four of Seattle’s remaining games are in conference, so they need to be very careful not to lose more than one of those, as in-conference games are the primary tiebreaker if they end up with the same schedule as a team from another division and haven’t played them head to head. Four of their final six games are also home games, which should be a considerable advantage, especially as the weather continues to get darker, colder, and wetter as we approach winter at a sprinter’s pace.
This week Seattle starts their march toward ten wins with a trip to face the Rams in LA, and this might be the first “must-win” game of their season. They don’t want to fall to 6-6, they don’t want to fall another game behind the 49ers for the division lead, and they don’t want to lose another conference game. They won’t be out of the playoff or division race with a loss this week, but it would mean three consecutive losses, and that is the wrong kind of streak to be on this late in the season.
The Rams are starting to run out of things to play for, as they have just three wins this year and would need a ton of help to make the playoffs. Their starting QB Matt Stafford has been in and out of the lineup this year with injuries, same with their all-world receiver Cooper Kupp and any number of their skill players.
This isn’t the Rams team that won the Super Bowl less than a year ago, and if you spent last season under a rock, you would have no idea this 3-8 team is the defending champions watching them play this year. If the Rams miss the playoffs, they would be the first team to do so after winning the Super Bowl since the 2016 Broncos. If the Rams finish the season with a losing record, it would be the first losing season under Sean McVay, and they would become the first team in nearly 20 years (2003 Tampa Bay) to win the Super Bowl and post a losing season the following year.
Seattle should go into this game expecting the Rams to be playing for their season because they really are. The Rams are on their own losing streak and are up to five games at this point – they haven’t won since October 16th, which is the last time they scored more than 20 points. This team may be on the decline, but they have lots of firepower and could blow up at any moment. Best to build a lead, keep your foot on the gas, and don’t look back until the final whistle blows.
This will be Seattle’s fourth straight game against a team with a losing record looking to get their season back on track, and they need to win this one to break even over that stretch. The records of their last three opponents have been 3-5, 4-5, and 3-6, and they won just one of those games. Here come the 3-8 Rams, and Seattle needs to put this one away early and get their own season back on track before whispers about the first half of their season being “lucky” begin to get loud.
If Seattle hits seven wins this week, the stories will be about their hunt to get back in the playoffs and that Geno Smith is outperforming Russell Wilson. If they drop to 6-6, the stories will be about how the real team emerged, and we were foolish to think their hot start was the real deal – even though it was. This team needs to play a complete game against a bad team; they keep letting their foot off the gas and allowing a weaker opponent to catch back up. How often did they have the Raiders on the ropes and let them off the hook? They let poor field conditions dictate their game against Tampa Bay in Germany; they can’t allow a game indoors and on turf to get away from them against one of the worst teams in the league, regardless of how good they were a year ago.
Geno needs to start fast and continue to limit his mistakes. He had one touchdown against the Raiders, to go with one pass intercepted (that was mainly due to a mess up by his receivers running into each other) and a fumbled handoff between him and Walker. No one is looking for Geno to be a monster on offense; they just need him to do what he’s done best this season – get rid of the ball quickly to the open player and limit his mistakes.
Geno has 20 TDs so far this season (19 passing, 1 rushing) compared to ten turnovers, an even split between five interceptions and five fumbles lost. He only has two games with more than one turnover, and he is 1-1 in those games. Regardless of what this team does down the stretch, Geno has had one hell of a year after being relegated to the background for most of his career.
After the Seahawks play the Rams, they would have just two division games remaining, and they don’t just need to beat the Rams to keep pace with the 49ers in the playoff hunt. They also need to keep pace with their division record. Seattle has lost just one division game, but the 49ers haven’t lost in the division yet and are running out of division games.
With a win this week, Seattle could be on their way to being tied with San Francisco heading into their matchup at Lumen Field in two weeks on Thursday Night Football. That game probably won’t decide the division with three games remaining, but the winner would control their destiny toward a guaranteed playoff spot and a shot at one of the top seeds.