There’s something about the NFL, bounce-back games, and the Rams that should make Sunday’s showdown particularly perilous for the Seahawks.
To watch the Rams on Monday night was to watch a stoppable force become an immobile object. Offensive ineptitude is one thing, but that was offensive inertia.
For four quarters, the revived Los Angeles franchise failed to move the football with an iota of efficiency, averaging 3.36 yards per play in a 28-0 loss to the 49ers. But beware, 12th men, that might have been the worst result possible for the Seahawks.
At first glance, such a pitiful performance would give the impression Seattle is going to blow by the Rams like they’re a 46-man yield sign Sunday. That wasn’t a typical shutout loss — it was the equivalent of an NBA team scoring 41 points.
But there’s something about the NFL, bounce-back games, and the Rams that should make Sunday’s showdown particularly perilous for the Seahawks. More succinctly put: Both teams could wind up 1-1 by day’s end.
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One need only go back to the 49ers’ 2015 opener to see how deceiving one epic fail can be. In their 20-3 loss to San Francisco last season, the Vikings looked almost as hopeless as the Rams did Monday.
The thing is, that Minnesota team went on to win 11 of its 15 games before Blair Walsh’s hooked field-goal attempt gifted the Seahawks a playoff win. As for the Niners? They lost 11 of their next 15 and ended up with the worst point differential in the NFC.
“They’re pros. They can go out there and change people’s minds. That’s the thing about professional sports,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman when asked about the Rams. “Anything can happen on any given Sunday.”
And, as Sherman knows — any given Saturday.
It has been several years since Seattle coach Pete Carroll wore a headset on the Los Angeles Coliseum sideline, as he will do Sunday. But in 2007, he watched Sherman’s Stanford team beat his top-ranked Trojans despite the Cardinal entering the game with a record of 0-3.
The Rams snatching a win from the Seahawks wouldn’t send shock waves across the country in quite the same fashion, but the point is — there are countless precedents for this sort of thing.
Then again, you don’t have to tell the Seahawks that.
Over the past four seasons, Seattle has a combined regular-season record of 46-18. The Rams, meanwhile, have gone 27-36-1. And yet the series between these teams over that span is 4-4, with the Rams winning the past two as well as the past three out of four.
Think of the Seahawks like a cobra and the Rams like a mongoose. The cobra is deadlier to most everyone else it comes across, yes, but for whatever reason, always struggles against that one furry foe.
There are plenty of reasons to think that trend will continue Sunday.
For one, nobody is quite sure how Russell Wilson is going to look. The Seahawks quarterback suffered an ankle injury after Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh stepped on his foot last Sunday, which will likely hamper the mobility that distinguishes Wilson from every quarterback in the league.
For two, the Rams have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL — which doesn’t bode well for Seattle’s inexperienced offensive line. There were times Sunday in which nitrogen and oxygen protected Wilson just as well as his teammates did, and if the O-line doesn’t improve drastically in Week 2, a victory will be hard to come by.
For three, the Rams seem to enjoy these situations. Last year, they scored a combined 16 points in Weeks 2 and 3 before knocking off the eventual NFC-champion Cardinals in Week 4. And their Week 16 win in Seattle came after Wilson had what might be the best five-game stretch in NFL quarterbacking history.
Doesn’t matter if they have been struggling or if their opponent has been sizzling, the Rams seem to find a way. Don’t be surprised if it happens again Sunday.
It’s been 22 years since the Rams played a regular-season game in Los Angeles. Rarely have they been so inclined to put on a good show.