NFC West divisional matchup to get things started in the NFC on Wildcard weekend. These sides have faced each other twice already this season with each winning one a piece, will the home side ‘hawks take the series 2-1 and move on to the NFC divisional round or will the Rams pull off the upset whilst possibly starting a QB in only his second career start?
John Wolford made his first career start in the NFL last week for the Rams in their must win game over divisional rival, Arizona Cardinals last week, and although he struggled on the stat sheet with zero TD’s and an INT and a completion percentage under 58% he did show some ability to move the chains with his legs, gaining over 50 yards on just 6 carries, and whilst Jared Goff hasn’t been officially ruled out with his thumb injury, it’s possible that even if he does play we’ll still see Wolford in some capacity. The Rams offense has struggled of late, failing to score an offensive TD since their loss to the Jets in week 15 and will now be up against a Seattle defense who they could only muster 9 points against just two weeks ago, and are playing great at the moment, but Seattle aren’t the only side in this matchup who can boast a strong defense. The LA Rams boast the NFL’s number one ranked pass defense, and they showed their chops in the first meeting between these to sides, keeping Russell Wilson to under 250 passing yards and two interceptions as well as sacking him six times, and whilst Russell Wilson had more success in the second matchup, throwing a TD pass and not turning the ball over but Russ was again kept under 250 yards and sacked five times, and their ability to get to the passer could be huge in this gam with Seattle losing three of the four games in which Wilson has been sacked five or more times, and the Rams finished the regular season with 53 sacks which was good enough to rank second in the NFL whilst Seattle allowed Wilson to be sacked 48 times which ranked bottom five.
This Seattle offense which started the year so hot has certainly come back down to earth with a thud in the second half of the season, after scoring 30+ points in 8 of their first 9 games, they have only managed that feat just once since and that was in a huge blow out of the at the time winless New York Jets, but their hot start made up the bulk of Russell Wilson’s 40 TD passes this season and also the reason that Seattle can boast not one but two Wide Receivers with over 1000 yards and double digit TD’s this season. D.K Metcalf has had a fantastic second season in the NFL, but has struggled against the Rams and Jalen Ramsey this season with under 90 yards in both games combined and is yet to score a TD in three games against Ramsey which isn’t a surprise when you consider that Jalen is one of the leagues bigger Corners and doesn’t struggle defending GO routes, Ramsey’s success shows that DK struggles to succeed when he can’t bully Cornerbacks with his strength and physicality off the line. Seattle’s defense has improved drastically from their early season struggles and whilst the run defense has played well all season it’s the improvement the pass defense has made in recent weeks which most impresses me, and whilst they haven’t played many strong offenses in recent weeks, they won’t be playing a particularly in form one here.
I’m taking the Seahawks here, the possibility that we’ll see John Wolford lead this Rams side in a playoff game against Russell Wilson in Seattle, I just can’t take a chance that I’ll need a QB making only his second career start to beat one of the best QB’s in the game. Pete Carroll has also never lost a playoff game in Seattle and I like the ‘hawks to win the battle of the West and move on to the Divisional round in a low scoring, close, defensive battle.
For my best bet I’m looking at Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks receiver had a 12 reception, 90 yard game against the 49ers last week but his U/O 5.5 receptions line in this game is something I’m not confident in him going over. Since Seattle’s offense has slowed down Lockett has only three games with 6 or more receptions whilst he was kept under that total in both games against the Rams this season, and in 12 career games against the Rams Lockett has only one game with 6 or more receptions, as well as only going over 5 receptions in one of his five career post season games, so at even money I like the under. I also like this game to be under 40 points, (in fact, I have it under 20) but under 41 points (which has happened in both games this season and in three straight games between these two teams) at even money looks a good bet to us.
PREDICTION: SEAHAWKS 10 – 9 RAMS
BEST BET: UNDER 41 match points – EVENS with bet365. 1 point bet.
NEXT BEST: Tyler Lockett UNDER 5.5 Receptions – EVENS with SkyBet. 1 point bet.