The worst season for a defending Super Bowl champion continues to look bleaker each week as the Los Angeles Rams suffer hit after hit to key players.
With no hope of making the playoffs, the Rams should begin to turn their attention to next season and evaluate some of the young players currently on the roster. That could come as early as Week 13 when they take on a division rival in the Seattle Seahawks who have surpassed their offseason expectations.
Los Angeles will be extremely shorthanded on both sides of the football which could lead to an ugly game, but strangers things have happened in the NFL.
Rams Offense vs. Seahawks defense
Los Angeles will once again be without Matthew Stafford, who is still dealing with a neck injury. Head coach Sean McVay announced earlier in the week that John Wolford will start with Bryce Perkins also available to play. Even though Wolford will be the starting quarterback, it sounds like Perkins will be mixed in on certain packages.
The Seahawks are susceptible to run plays, which explains why Perkins could see snaps given his mobility in the pocket. It also should represent an opportunity for rookie Kyren Williams to show the coaching staff what he can do. Williams has earned more opportunities, though Cam Akers will see his share of touches as well.
As for the passing attack, Wolford or Perkins will need to rely on the likes of Ben Skowronek and Tyler Higbee to move the ball through the air. Seattle is going to be well aware of this, and likely focus their coverage to those two so McVay will need to be creative with the playcalling.
Rams Defense vs. Seahawks offense
Aaron Donald is slated to miss his first career game after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the Week 12 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Rams will also be without A’Shawn Robinson, who is out for the year with a torn meniscus. Without two of their top defensive linemen, L.A. will need to rely on players like Greg Gaines, Michael Hoechst and Marquise Copeland to hold down the trenches.
Gino Smith has been an efficient passer, and he’ll have his top weapons in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett available. However, the real threat might be Kenneth Walker who is on a tear and looks like a lock for Rookie Offensive Player of the Year.
Keys to Victory
1. Control time of possession
Sustaining drives have been an issue for the Rams offense all year, and it’ll be an uphill battle for them with so many key guys out. However, McVay and his staff must look to extend drives and keep Seattle’s offense off the field for as long as possible in order to keep their own defense out of trouble.
2. Slow down Kenneth Walker
As mentioned earlier, Walker has been a beast when he has the football in his hands and has given the Seahawk offense a new dimension offensively. The defensive line needs be disciplined in their gap coverage and ensure the young back doesn’t have clear lanes to run through, though that’s easier said than done.