Seahawks will control Gurley and the Rams to lock up a playoff spot
The Seahawks face another tough challenge on the road. Todd Gurley has played better lately, but the Hawks will win and punch their ticket to the playoffs.
The Seahawks have been perfect on the road so far this season. It’s a tall order for them to continue that pace, but that’s exactly what they’ll have to do on Sunday Night Football. If they beat the Rams in Los Angeles, they’ll lock up a spot in the playoffs. Yep, Seattle just needs one win to ensure they’ll make the playoffs. The Rams have played better lately, but so have the Seahawks.
Los Angeles has won two of their last three, in no small part on the legs of Todd Gurley. He ran for over 90 yards in those two wins. Until three weeks ago Gurley hadn’t topped 70 yards rushing since week one. Why the resurgence? I’d say that he’s probably feeling healthy for one reason.
For another reason, it appears Sean McVay realized he was being an idiot. His words, not mine, regarding his use of Gurley this season. Consider the success both the Seahawks and 49ers have seen with the running game. Then look back at the success of the Rams the past two seasons riding Gurley to two division titles. I agree with Coach McVay; he was being an idiot.
So what does that mean for Seattle? The Hawks can expect to see heavy doses of Gurley, far more than the 18 touches he got in the Seahawks 20-19 win back in October. I’d also expect the Rams to try to get the ball to their star running back in space a lot more this time. Gurley was targeted over 80 times the last two seasons. So far in 2019, they’ve only looked his way 35 times. The rams target Gurley an average of 5.8 times per game in their two division-winning seasons. With four games left this year, Gurley is averaging just 3.2 targets per game. He’s only topped five targets once this year. Again, a strange choice by McVay.
I imagine the Rams will correct that oversight Sunday night. Gerald Everett, their lead tight end, apparently won’t be available for the game. That means more opportunities for their second tight end Tyler Higbee but should also give Gurley more targets as well.
Seahawks defense is turning it around at the right time
Of course, the Seahawks pass defense has started to turn their season around, too. I have no doubt the arrival of safety Quandre Diggs has a lot to do with the long-awaited resurgence. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah has played much better the past two games as well. The increased pressure on the quarterback has aided that improved pass coverage. In addition, Seattle has generated 11 turnovers in their last three games.
Speaking of the last three games, the Seahawks are 3-0 and defeated teams with a combined record of 23-13. The Rams won two of three as I mentioned above. Those two wins were over the 7-6 Bears and the 3-8-1 Cardinals. That’s not exactly impressive. I’ll admit we can’t blast them for their loss to Baltimore since Seattle couldn’t beat them either. The Hawks 30-16 loss was hard to take, but at least it wasn’t a 45-6 annihilation.
Finally, let’s look at the quarterbacks. Russell Wilson hasn’t been on his A-game lately, that’s true. He’s made a few crucial errors and missed a few wide-open targets. He hasn’t hit a passer rating over 100 in three weeks. Yet when the Hawks needed him at crunch time, he’s come through every time.
Compare that to Jared Goff. He had a good game last week, but Arizona’s pass defense is atrocious. They’ve allowed 31 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Those two scores were Goff’s first in a month. In his three previous games, he had thrown five interceptions without finding the end zone once. Goff has always been overrated. He’s good, sure, but he’s far from great.
When the Hawks faced him in October, Goff threw just one touchdown and one pick. Wilson was a bit better, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. There’s no contest as to which team has the better quarterback. Consider how well Seattle has controlled opposing running backs the past five games. Opponents have averaged just 88 yards per game. I’ll take Chris Carson and the revitalized Rashaad Penny over Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown. I like the matchups even better the second time around, and see the Hawks taking this one 33-23.