The Rams will be in Seattle this weekend to face the Seahawks for the second time in three weeks, and while these teams are plenty familiar with each other, no two matchups between teams are ever the same and both teams will look a bit different than they did when Seattle beat the Rams 20-9 in Week 16. So with that in mind, we turn again to therams.com staff writer Stu Jackson, who answers five questions from Seahwaks.com about the L.A. Rams ahead of Saturday's game at Lumen Field:
These teams split their regular-season meetings, with Seattle winning 20-9 at Lumen Field two weeks ago, what do the Rams feel like they need to do differently to change that result?
Jackson: The biggest thing is sharper execution and winning the battle at the line of scrimmage on offense. As the three field goals show, the Rams were putting themselves in scoring position, but their lack of execution – and getting stopped on the Seahawks 1-yard line – prevented them from reaching the end zone and coming away with more than nine points.
And on a related note, the Rams' top-ranked defense did a good job against the Seahawks in the first half last time around, then Russell Wilson and the offense got going. How are the Rams hoping to avoid a repeat of that second half?
Jackson: Limiting explosive plays (15 or more yards). Seattle had three in that game (David Moore's 45-yard catch, Tyler Lockett's 24-yard catch and Carlos Hyde's 18-yard catch), all of which came in the second half and on its touchdown scoring drives. The Seahawks offense is usually bound to make at least one explosive play in a game, so for the Rams defense, it's important to make sure they don't let it negatively impact how the rest of the drive goes.
We don't know yet who will start at quarterback for the Rams, but if it's John Wolford again, what did he show the team in his first start last week?
Jackson: Like you mentioned, we don't know yet who will start, but Wolford showed poise and composure, more than anything. He got off to a tough start throwing an interception on his first pass attempt, but eventually settled in to lead the Rams offense on three scoring drives (all field goals) and do enough to help them maintain their lead against the Cardinals. Wolford also displayed toughness. Late in the fourth quarter, he kept the ball on a zone read and ran nine yards, lowering his shoulder at the end to get a third down conversion and keep the drive alive. While the Rams punted at the end of it, they ended up giving the ball back to the Cardinals with less than 30 seconds remaining – not enough time to overcome an 11-point deficit.
Aaron Donald said after the game that a rematch with the Seahawks was "exactly what we wanted." Why are the All-Pro DT and the rest of the Rams looking forward to this matchup?
Jackson: It's a divisional opponent that they're familiar with, and with the two teams splitting the regular season matchups, it's a "tiebreaker" in Donald's words. Defensive lineman Morgan Fox said they "always like playing" the Seahawks and that Saturday's playoff game is the type of "tough, physical wintertime game" that "you dream of."
Aside from the obvious DK Metcalf vs. Jalen Ramsey matchup, which is always must-see TV, what other matchup or matchups do you think could make a difference Saturday?
Jackson: Darious Williams vs. Lockett. Lockett had a big game in Week 17 against the 49ers (12 catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns), so as usual, the Rams will need to be aware of where he is at all times, and it will be important for Williams to try to limit him.
Akers vs. the Seahawks' No. 5 run defense is another matchup that could make a difference on Saturday. Akers missed Week 16 with a high ankle sprain, but is healthy now. When he's at full strength and effective, it helps open things up for the rest of the Rams offense regardless of who is under center.