The Rams are no longer undefeated. But will they be vulnerable when the 4-4 Seahawks arrive in Los Angeles this weekend?
The Rams are no longer undefeated.
The class of the NFC West took a hit last weekend as Los Angeles’ defense was pummeled in a 45-35 defeat to the New Orleans Saints.
Can the 4-4 Seahawks send the Rams into a losing streak? We’ll find out Sunday afternoon.
Until then, here are five things to know about the 8-1 Los Angeles Rams.
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1. When the Rams play, Todd Gurley II scores.
Specifically, Los Angeles’ 6-foot-1, 224-pound running back has found the end zone in 12 consecutive games, which is a Rams franchise record. His 16 touchdowns are the second most through nine games in NFL history (trailing only Jim Brown, who had 17 touchdowns in 1958).
The Seahawks, of course, understand what they’ll be up against Sunday. In his past two games against Seattle, Gurley has amassed 293 total yards and seven touchdowns. The Seahawks enter the game allowing an average of 4.8 yards per carry this season, which is tied for 26th in the NFL.
In nine games this season, Gurley has rushed for 868 yards, 4.8 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns and added 362 receiving yards and four receiving scores. He’ll add to those totals Sunday … and odds are, he’ll score again.
2. The addition of defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. didn’t pay dividends.
At least, not right away.
After trading for the Jaguars’ former third overall pick last week, Fowler finished with just one tackle in the Rams’ loss to New Orleans last weekend. In fact, the entire Los Angeles defense failed to sack Saints standout quarterback Drew Brees.
It’ll be interesting to see if Fowler can make more of an impact Sunday against a Seahawks offensive line that allowed four Chargers sacks last weekend. Still, defensive tackle Aaron Donald — who has 10 sacks in nine games this season — remains the more immediate concern.
3. The Rams’ pass defense is vulnerable.
We’re not just saying that because Brees completed 69.4 percent of his passes last week, throwing for 346 yards and four touchdowns (though he did).
We’re saying it because these 8-1 Rams have allowed more passes of 40 yards or more (11) than any team in the NFL. They also rank 25th in opponent passer rating (96.8). And their best cornerback, Aqib Talib, remains on injured reserve in the wake of ankle surgery.
In a narrow Week 5 loss to Los Angeles, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson completed 13 of 21 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. There’s no reason to think he can’t improve upon those numbers on Sunday.
4. Los Angeles’ receiving corps is healthier than last time.
Remember that 33-31 Seahawks loss on Oct. 7, when Rams wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp both left the game with head injuries?
Well Cooks and Kupp are both back, and that’s bad news for the Seahawks secondary.
In the loss in New Orleans last week, Cooks led the Rams with six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. After missing the previous two games with a knee injury, Kupp added six catches for 89 yards and a 41-yard score.
Add Cooks and Kupp to Robert Woods, and the Rams tout perhaps the most balanced, dynamic receiving corps in the NFL.
5. The Rams have not lost at home this season.
But it hasn’t always been easy.
Since decimating the Arizona Cardinals 34-0 on Sept. 16, the Rams have defeated three quality opponents — the Chargers, Vikings and Packers — by an average of seven points at home.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, have won three consecutive road games — if you count the win over the Raiders in London as a road game — after dropping their first two to start the season. According to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, they enter the week as a whopping 10-point underdog, however.
The combined record of the three teams the Seahawks have bested on the road is 6-18. So it’s safe to say they’ve yet to encounter a challenge quite like the one they’ll see Sunday.