Scott Shapiro's Thursday Night Football preview: Rams at Seahawks
The good times started last week with a winner Thursday night at Lambeau Field and continued into Sunday, when underdogs and Unders were the theme for my weekly Six Pack at BetAmerica. Hopefully the second quarter of the 2019 NFL season will go as well as the first quarter did.
Week 5 gets rolling with a contest between NFC West rivals that both enter the Thursday-night matchup with just one loss.
Los Angeles Rams
Over 49.5 (-115)
Under 49.5 (-105)
The Rams got caught looking ahead Sunday afternoon after a prime-time win over the Browns. They let two-score underdog Tampa Bay jump out to a 21-0 lead and never settled in on defense against quarterback Jameis Winston and his talented duo of wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Winston threw for 385 yards in Tampa’s 55-40 win in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams defense had been the team’s strength through three weeks, led by veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, so my initial thought is that Los Angeles’ Week 4 performance is an outlier. I expect the talented unit led by one of the league’s sharpest defensive minds to bounce back against a team they know well.
On offense the Rams posted 40 points against Tampa, but they struggled to run the ball (11 carries for just 28 yards) behind an offensive line that has been an issue through the first four games. Quarterback Jared Goff has not moved forward in his fourth professional year. In Week 4 he pleased fantasy owners and those who backed the Over on his prop bets, but he really did not play well in an effort that included three interceptions.
If Los Angeles wants to get back to being an elite offense, it needs to get Todd Gurley going. That may occur at some point, but the Rams face a tough task in their Week 5 road contest in the Pacific Northwest.
The Seahawks rush defense ranks sixth in the NFL through four games (79.5 yards per game). Seattle was already formidable up front, but the addition of one of the league’s best run stoppers in Jadeveon Clowney has taken the defensive unit to another level. I expect their front seven to dominate the line of scrimmage and make the Rams one dimensional. As we have seen in the past, that is not when Goff shines.
The Seahawks bounced back from a disappointing home loss in Week 3 to the Saints with a workmanlike 27-10 victory in Arizona. They ran for 115 yards and threw for 225, but that was against a subpar Cardinals group that is without star cornerback Patrick Peterson. Quarterback Russell Wilson is always dangerous and clutch, but after being dominated at home, I expect the Rams to make life difficult on a Seattle offense that has a lot of weapons.
It is still early in the season, but both of these squads appear to be serious playoff contenders. With little time to prepare and a lot on the line, it should be a hotly contested battle, with points harder to come by than most expect.
The Rams and Seahawks have played in three straight contests that have gone over the total, including two games in the 60s in 2018, but that trend will come to a halt Thursday night.