Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks: Visitors' excellent defence can deliver upset

Jalen Ramsey Rams
Jalen Ramsey shut DK Metcalf down in week 10

The Rams go to Seattle as underdogs but Dave Gray thinks the defence can defy the odds and lead them to victory in this all NFC West clash...

"When these two teams met in week 10, Ramsey was responsible for covering Metcalf and he held the giant receiver to his worst game of the season. He had just two catches for 28 yards on only four targets."

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, 21:40 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

Key Rams returning for the playoff run

The Rams had a great win over the Cardinals to get into the playoffs, despite starting quarterback Jared Goff missing out due to a thumb injury. John Wolford had a good game against Arizona, but make no mistake, if Goff is healthy then he will be starting. He was listed as limited in practice but the indications are that he will start. Whether Goff is a big upgrade over Wolford is a debate for the offseason but he has led the team to a Super Bowl before and he is capable of doing so again. The 26-year-old had a mixed season. He finished with 3,952 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Perhaps more importantly in terms of injury news is that Andrew Whitworth and Cooper Kupp should be back. Kupp had a good game against Seattle in week 16 and can do so again here. Whitworth is not just an upgrade on the offensive line, but a real leader for this team. Having a player with his experience back for this run at a title can only be a good thing for Los Angeles.

Seahawks defence may not be what it appears to be

The Seahawks defence has really turned things around over the second half of the season. They were a historically bad pass defence over the first seven or eight weeks but over the final couple of months led the league or were right up there in points allowed, passer rating, passing touchdowns and a whole host of other stats. However, they may not tell the whole story. The quarterbacks they faced over that time were basically a list of back ups or struggling quarterbacks - plus Kyler Murray. There is no doubt they are better than they were at the start of the season, but this is not a powerhouse defence that the stats may suggest.

Jamaal Adams is a star though, and the best player on this defence. He is a game winner and no matter who is at quarterback, he will show up. He left last week's game with injury but should be good to go in this one. He will be key in slowing down the Rams offence, whether that is getting after the quarterback or helping in the run game.


Explosive receivers can win it for Seattle

Russell Wilson has once again had a very good season. It looks unlikely that he will finally get that MVP Award, or even a vote for it, but he is the sort of quarterback who can turn it on when he really needs to. He thrives in big games like this and going up against this superb Rams defence, he will need to be at his best.

In DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Seattle have perhaps the most explosive and dangerous duo of pass catchers in the league. There has been just five games all season where one of the pair has not gone over 80 yards - two of those five against this weekend's opponents it should be noted. But they are game-changing wide receivers and if the Rams do not have a good plan for stopping them, they will make them pay.

LA defence is one of the league's best

That Rams defence could have been expected to drop off. They saw a number of key players head out the door in the offseason and there was a change at coordinator as Brandon Staley took on the role for the very first time after a few years working with Vic Fangio - one of the best defensive coaches in the game. But they have just gone from strength to strength.

Aaron Donald may not have the numbers he has had in previous years - although most could only dream of what he is putting up - but he just wrecks offensive lines and makes things so tough for offensive lines and quarterbacks.

Jalen Ramsey, who is perhaps one half of the key battle in this one, has been excellent since signing his huge deal. When these two teams met in week 10 he was responsible for covering Metcalf and he held the giant receiver to his worst game of the season. He had just two catches for 28 yards on only four targets. It seems very likely that Ramsey will once again be called into action for this one and if he can shut Metcalf down again, it will go a long way toward a Rams victory.

Trust the Rams defence to get it done

Both teams are very good, but have their weaknesses. But for me the best unit in this game is the Rams defence and that is where the game can be won. We have seen the Seahawks kept at bay in recent weeks and LA are better than those teams they have faced. If they can keep Wilson and co to around 20 points or fewer, as I expect, then I think they can come home from Seattle with a big win and what looks likely to be a trip to Green Bay for the divisional round.

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