Thursday Night Football: Week 5 Preview

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

CenturyLink Field

Seattle, WA

Betting

Tonight’s game should be a great one. With Seattle the favorites by only 1.5 points, we could have a game that comes down to the wire. Seattle has an incredible primetime record and the folks over at OddShark have explained is a good reason to pick the Seattle side of bets tonight. But, we want to make money by picking the underdogs! A lot is made out of the splits that Jared Goff has on the road versus at home, but I’m a believer in the Rams talent. That is why I am taking the Rams Moneyline at even money (+100) for tonight. Seattle has yet to play a good team and the Rams are coming off of a barn-burner against Tampa Bay. Great offenses for both squads against mediocre defenses could lead to a higher scoring game than what is expected. The total is at 49.5 (-105 on Over) and I feel we have a solid chance of hitting the 50 point mark. If the Rams defense plays as poorly as they did last week, another shootout could be on the docket for us tonight. 

Injuries

The hometown Seahawks are surprisingly healthy for a Thursday Night game tonight. With Rashaad Penny returning, all skill position players should be good to go for tonight’s game. The only other players on the injury report are starting LT Duane Brown and backup interior lineman Ethan Pocic. If both are to miss tonight’s game, look for Aaron Donald and a resurging Clay Matthews to create extra pressure on Russell Wilson.

On the visitors’ side of things, the Rams will be without starting linebacker Bryce Hager and safety Taylor Rapp (doubtful). Rookies Troy Reeder and Travin Howard will have to step up and attempt to stop an exceptional offense built around the running game.

Seahawks Offense vs. Rams Defense

The Seahawks are a run-first offense but they are often forced to throw thanks to the game script. With Russell Wilson at QB and Chris Carson / Rashaad Penny flanking him in the backfield, the Seahawks utilize the RPO to get the ball into the hands of Tyler Lockett and Will Dissly if needed. Speaking of Dissly, he has been the surprise of the season at the TE position in the NFL. Catching 19 of 22 targets with 4 of which being touchdowns, Dissly has become the security blanket that QB’s around the league hope and wish for. Don’t expect Dissly to make any splash plays though, those are reserved for D.K. Metcalf. The rookie wideout is averaging over 22 yards per catch this season and a big target for Wilson to direct passes towards down the sideline. Something to watch for tonight will be the ball security of Chris Carson. He’s had fumble issues throughout his career and another one could land him in the doghouse; leaving the bulk of the carries for Penny.

Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Eric Weddle, John Johnson III, and Dante Fowler Jr. are just some of the big names on this Rams defense… how are they not unstoppable?! Admittedly, this squad took care of business against the Saints and Browns this season. But, a less than 100% Cam Newton and the Panthers scored 27 points on them and the Buccaneers scored an incredible 55(!) points last week on this defense. This defensive unit has forced 6 turnovers and 10 sacks (5 of which are by Clay Matthews) so it is questionable as to why they are performing in such a mediocre manner. I already think the Rams are being undervalued and overlooked for tonight’s game, but; if Duane Brown misses tonight’s game too… this defense will be firing up blitz packages to force Wilson to throw underneath and get the ball out quickly.

Rams Offense vs. Seahawks Defense

Jared Goff needs to play better on the road, plain and simple. His passer rating is 15 points higher when he plays at home and his QBR for the season is nearing his abysmal rookie season rating. Goff signed that huge extension and is not living up to it as of yet. Speaking of huge contracts and disappointment, Todd Gurley II is no longer the Gurley of past seasons. Previously one of the most elusive and threatening backs in the league, Gurley now is in a timeshare with Malcolm Brown for touches thanks to “load management” for his chronic knee issues. Averaging under 55 rushing yards per game, Gurley is no longer a guy that can go out and get 100 yards with ease. Thankfully for the Rams, they have the best trio of receivers in the NFL. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Brandin Cooks are equally troublesome for opposing defenses as they are all averaging over 74 yards per game. No defense can cover all 3 every single play so they have to rely on the inability of Goff to be consistent with his throws and reads. 

Built around Bobby Wagner and Jadaveon Clowney, this Seahawks defense is determined to get into the backfield and limit the chances QB’s have to air it out down the field. In this matchup, forcing Goff to make quick reads is normally a good thing. However, Goff has Cooper Kupp at his disposal who has 193 yards after the catch this season. Meaning that Kupp can make plays with his legs after Goff dumps it off to him. For a team that is lacking in the turnover department, the Seahawks defense will have their work cut out for them tonight. 

Prediction

Rams: 28

Seahawks: 27

Guaranteed Touchdown Scorer: Todd Gurley

Dart Throw Touchdown Scorer: D.K. Metcalf

Conclusion

In a battle of NFC West powerhouses, who will come out on top? Do you believe in the Rams talent like me, or are you siding with the Seahawks and their outstanding home-field crowd advantage? Let me know in the comments below!

-Mitchell Seefeldt

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