Seahawks vs. Rams preview: 5 questions with Rams expert Steve Rivera

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 15: Punter Jon Ryan (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 15: Punter Jon Ryan (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The Seahawks play the Rams on Sunday in week five. Seattle is 2-2. Los Angeles is 3-1. To help preview the matchup I spoke with Steve Rivera of FanSided’s Ramblin’ Fan.

Steve Rivera is the expert at FanSided’s Los Angeles Rams site, Ramblin’ Fan. Seahawks fans should not hold that against him. I have known Steve for a while now. He’s a good guy who knows his football. Even if he does pull for the other team…

To help preview Sunday’s NFC West battle, I ask Steve five questions about the 2017 Rams and which team he thinks will win Sunday.

12th Man Rising: The Rams offense is operating on a completely different level than last season. What are some reasons for this?

Steve Rivera: I think like most things, the Rams have better personnel on the offensive side of the football and on the sidelines. Two things are hard to ignore: the O-line has given Jared Goff some needed confidence he won’t get crushed, and new head coach Sean McVay has given him confidence in his game. He’s also found confidence in his receivers and in the running game.


12th Man: Todd Gurley is healthy and more Marshall Faulk-like this season in his use. What should his numbers look like by the end of the year?

Rivera: Todd Gurley is running much better this year, but many wonder if durability will eventually catch up with him. It’s a fair question. McVay was asked that question this week and said ultimately it will depend on how his running back feels. But there is little doubt whatever “sophomore slump” he was in last season has ended.

He’s also become much more versatile as a pass catcher out of the backfield. With back to back 100 plus yard games, he’s quickly becoming “go-to” for McVay and the offense. The Rams will need Malcolm Brown to eventually help find some balance in the Rams running game, and LA may find time for Tavon Austin also in ten backfield as his production as a “gadget guy” diminishes in the Rams offense.

Rams defense

12th Man: The defense has yet to play great. Why is this?

Rivera: The Rams defense is an absolute riddle in 2017. Coming into this season, the conventional wisdom was that a Wade Phillips defense would probably buy the offense some time as Goff found his game. It’s been the other way around. It’s hard to say if the Aaron Donald holdout has had an effect. But depth has as has injuries. The Rams run defense had been awful, even making San Francisco look legitimate. Phillips got a game ball after effectively shutting down the Dallas offense when they needed it most. If he can keep the Los Angeles offense from needing to score 35 or more points each week to win, he’ll likely get a few more.

Rams for real?

12th Man: The Rams were 3-1 in 2016, the same as this year. But this team seems different. Should LA fans expect this team to make the playoffs this season?

Rivera: EVERYONE in the NFL media seem to think this is the week the Rams come back to earth. But this 3-1 edition has a different feel and look. Last season looked to be a grind every week with Case Keenum and an unimaginative offense.

McVay has Goff playing with confidence. Even if the Rams do come back to earth in some form or fashion tomorrow, the outlook in Los Angeles is positive. 3-1 in 2017 is different than 3-1 in 2016. The playoffs may not necessarily be a stretch this season, but even if they finish out of them, they are no longer a bottom feeder in the division or in the league.

Who wins?

12th Man: What is your prediction for Sunday’s game: Who wins and why?

Rivera: I like the Rams at home tomorrow. This game matches two teams who typically play each other tough. If Los Angeles wins, it’ll be because they win the field position battle. LA can win with special teams, either by keeping the Seattle offense needing to go a long way for points, or by bailing out Goff if the offense struggles to get into the end zone. If Zuerlein needs to kick seven field goals to win, they’ll take it.

Related Story: How to watch Seahawks vs. Rams on Sunday

But it’ll be close.

Rams 19

Seattle 17