The Rams lead the NFL in scoring and sit atop the NFC West. They will face their toughest test in the Seahawks on Sunday.
2017 record: 3-1, first in NFC West.
Coach: Sean McVay (3-1 in first season with Rams and in the NFL).
Series record: The Seahawks lead it 22-15 due largely to a run of domination that began in 2005 when Seattle won 10 in a row and 16 of 18. But the Rams have had the better of it lately winning four of the last six, including a 9-3 win in Los Angeles last season.
By the numbers
13 Years since the Rams last had a winning record, going 12-4 in winning the NFC West in 2003.
12 Years since the Rams last made the playoffs, going 8-8 in 2003 and beating Seattle in a wild-card game before losing in the divisional round.
8 Years that Seahawks’ Ring of Honor member Chuck Knox coached the Rams, from 1973-77 and again from 1992-94.
Early line: Rams by 2½ points.
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QB Jared Goff: Declared a bust by some observers last year when he failed to win the starting job after being the first overall pick in the draft Goff has been a revelation so far under first-year coach McVay, who came to the Rams after a stint as the offensive coordinator with Washington. Goff is third in the NFL this week in passer rating at 112.2 and isn’t doing it just dinking and dunking —his 9.16 yards per attempt is second in the NFL. Goff has seven touchdowns and has thrown just one interception and also has been sacked just four times.
RB Todd Gurley: Here’s your annual reminder that the Seahawks thought Gurley was so good coming out of college that he was the top player on their board for the 2015 NFL draft. Gurley was the offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 after rushing for 1,106 yards, then had a down season in 2016 with just 885 and averaging only 3.2 per carry. But like the rest of the Rams’ offense, he looks like a new player under McVay with 362 rushing yards and 4.2 per carry so far. Gurley also has caught 20 passes for 234 yards and according to the NFL he is just the third running back in NFL history to accumulate more than 575 yards from scrimmage and score seven touchdowns in the first four games of the season, the others being Jim Brown and Emmitt Smith (Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt also had a shot at that going into the Chiefs’ game Monday night).
WR Cooper Kupp: The Yakima native and former standout at Davis High and Eastern Washington was the 69th pick in the 2017 draft and so far has shown signs of being worth the investment. Kupp has 14 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns and is coming off his best game against Dallas when he had five receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.
DL Aaron Donald: The standout lineman held out for a new contract before reporting without getting a new deal. He’s played in three games and has appeared to need a little time to make up for lost time. He admitted after his first game of the season in week two against Washington that “I just have to play better.” He had his only sack in a week three win over the 49ers. But Donald has historically had his way with the Seahawks. He has four sacks in six career games against Seattle. His matchup with the middle of Seattle’s offensive line, and specifically center Justin Britt, may be as pivotal as any other in Sunday’s game.
About the Rams
True, the Rams were 3-1 in 2016 before faceplanting their way to a 4-12 record that got Jeff Fisher fired. And true, four games is a little much to yet anoint McVay as the NFL’s next great coach. But McVay has injected a lot of excitement into a long-moribund franchise with the Rams averaging 35.5 points so far, first in the NFL, a far cry from last season when Los Angeles was last in points scored at 14 per game. True the Rams have not played a murderer’s row of opponents, putting the same number of points on the Colts in week one as the Seahawks — 46 — and also feasting on the winless 49ers. But it’s hard to ignore the transformation of Goff in his second year as well as Gurley again looking like one of the better young running backs in the NFL. And the offensive line has looked vastly improved thanks in part to the presence of veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who signed as a free agent after starring for the previous 11 seasons with the Bengals. The offensive revival has made up for the fact that the defense has continued to struggle. The Rams, in fact, are 28th in points allowed at 26.25 per game. But the second half at Dallas was encouraging as the Rams rallied from a 24-13 first-half deficit to beat the Cowboys 35-30, stopping Dallas on fourth down to end the game. The Rams are also getting standout special-teams play with Greg Zuerlein kicking a franchise-record seven field goals Sunday and the Rams having an average start drive of their own 33.8, best in the NFL, a field position battle that is aided greatly by the punting of Bothell High grad Johnny Hekker.