The NFC West is shaping up to be one of the best, if not the best, division in football. On Sunday, two of the playoff contenders from within the division will battle it out in Hollywood, as the Los Angeles Rams (5-3) will host the Seattle Seahawks (6-2). It is the first meeting between these clubs this season.
Here is a preview for the Seahawks and Rams, complete with a free pick. Thanks in part to being at home and having an extra week of rest, Los Angeles is a two-point favorite.
There is potentially no other team in football right now that is as much-watch offensively than the Seahawks. Headlined by quarterback and MVP front runner Russell Wilson and star wide receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, Seattle has failed to reach the 30-point mark just once all season. Even in their losses, which have come in two of their last three games, the Seahawks tallied 34 points in each of them.
The numbers back up how good the offense has been. Seattle leads the league with 34.3 points per game as well as 434.5 total yards per game.
They're also averaging 298 passing yards, another mark that leads the NFL. Although they have suffered injuries to their running back core, the Seahawks are still averaging a respectable 117 yards on the ground, good for 14th in the league.
But with one extreme comes another, and that's the reason why Seattle isn't among the likes of the Steelers or Chiefs as an elite team. Its defense is perhaps the worst in football, allowing more than 466 yards per game, the most in the league, as well as the third-most points allowed at 30.4.
The Seahawks' secondary is giving up a league-worst 362 passing yards as well and is among the bottom 10 in third-down defense. However, since nearly every game the Seahawks have played has been a shootout, they are allowing the fourth-fewest rushing yards with 93.6.
Over halfway through the season, many people are still trying to figure out the Rams. Just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, Los Angeles is very much in playoff contention but perhaps needs a win against a team like the Seahawks to become a real title contender.
Having lost two of their last three before heading into their bye week, quarterback Jared Goff and wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will help this offense try to put up over 30 points for the first time in over a month.
Los Angeles is not having a problem moving down the field. The Rams rank eighth with 406 total yards per game and also use a running back committee to help get them to nearly 138 rushing yards, the seventh-most in football.
The Rams are even in the top-10 with a 44 percent success rate on third downs. However, they are averaging 24.1 points, about 10 fewer than Seattle, which ranks 21st in the NFL.
However, much to the opposite of their opponents, you can make a case for Los Angeles' defense being elite. The Rams have the second-fewest yards allowed with 312.5 and points allowed with 19.
They've given up fewer than 95 rushing yards per game and re allowing just 197 passing yards, the second-fewest in the NFL. With perhaps the game's top defensive player in defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the Rams also have 25 sacks as a team, the fifth most in football.
On one side of the field is Wilson. The ninth-year quarterback and former Super Bowl champion has 28 touchdown passes in eight games, on pace to join the select few with 50 or more TDs in a season.
But he'll go up against Donald, who for several seasons has been considered the best defensive player in the sport. Tied for the league lead with nine sacks, Donald versus Wilson pits the potential defensive versus offensive players of the year directly against each other in what is sure to be a matchup for the ages.
Before getting to who wins the game, the 54.5-point total is one that is worth taking a look at. As you can expect, Seattle has hit the over often, doing so in six of its eight games in 2020. However, the Rams have been under in each of their last games.
But I like the over to hit for a couple of reasons. Number one, the Seahawks are close to a lock to get around 30 points based on how their offense has played this year.
Second, the Rams have scored 28 or more points in five of their past six meetings with Seattle. The Seahawks have allowed no fewer than 23 points in a game all season, so I'm inclined to take the over 54.5 and would bet it up to 56.
As for the game itself, I like the Rams just a hair more. Having last week off while their opponents traveled across the country to take on a good Bills team should work in their favor.
In addition, they've played well against Seattle the last few years and are getting healthy, while the Seahawks continue to get hit hard with injuries.
It's entirely possible Wilson can carry the Seahawks to a victory, and either way, I think this will be one of the closer games of the week. But I'm taking the Rams to win and cover, moving them into a tie for first place in the NFC West.
Pick: Rams -2, Over 54.5