RENTON — There might be as many story lines before the game as points scored during it when the Seahawks host the Rams on Thursday night at Lumen Field:

  • There is the social media tit-for-tat that then ensued.

First, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey was caught saying the Seahawks can “take their (NFC West) hats and T-shirts to Cabo. They can take their hats and T-shirts to Cabo. They can keep their little hat and T-shirt. They can go to Cabo for the rest of the offseason.”

Then, after the Rams lost the following week to Green Bay, Seahawks safety Jamal Adams responded on Twitter: “See y’all in Cabo! @RamsNFL & make sure y’all bring your own damn cigars too!” The Rams had poked fun at Adams for smoking a cigar after the Seahawks won the NFC West by beating L.A. in December.

  • And there’s Rams coach Sean McVay, who surely is eager to show that the teacher still knows more than the pupil and maybe show Seahawks coach Pete Carroll that it won’t be as easy as hiring an assistant away to stop what has been Los Angeles’ recent dominance in the series. Including the playoff game, the Rams have won six of the past eight against Seattle.
  • There’s Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald getting another chance to terrorize Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Donald’s 13 sacks of Wilson since 2014 are his most against any team.
  • There’s Wilson getting another shot against the only NFC West team against which he has a losing record, which also is his worst record against any team he’s faced more than three times — 8-10. The only other teams against which Wilson has a losing record are the Saints, Titans (both 1-2) and Chargers (0-2).
  • It’s also Seattle’s only Thursday night game this season, bringing with it a chance to break out the Action Green uniforms and improve on all those glittering prime-time records. The Seahawks are 10-1 Thursday nights since Carroll arrived in 2010 and 33-8-1 in prime time.

But mostly, both teams hope to get the early upper hand for 2021, after the game’s implications shifted greatly Sunday.

After a 3-0 start that had them pegged as the NFC West favorite, the Rams were surprisingly destroyed at home by Arizona 37-20.

At the same time and with their season seemingly already on life support after falling behind at San Francisco, the Seahawks crawled off the mat for an ultimately dominating win to improve to 2-2.

Advertising

Should the Seahawks win Thursday, they would be assured of being in second place by the end of the weekend, and only a game out of first should the 49ers upset Arizona. Should the Rams win, they’d have a two-game lead on the Seahawks, who still have to go to L.A. later in the year.

Seattle won’t play another NFC West game until Nov. 21 when it hosts the Cardinals. The Seahawks play four games in between, the next three of which suddenly appear more winnable now than when the schedule was announced in May — at Pittsburgh and home games vs. New Orleans and Jacksonville before heading to Green Bay on Nov. 14.

So the stakes for Thursday are clear, which Wilson says is more than enough.

“It’s all about this year, this opportunity, and what we can do,” Wilson said.

The Seahawks also want to build on the final 35 minutes of Sunday’s game, when they rallied from a 7-0 deficit. They held the 49ers scoreless on eight consecutive possessions — and to punts on five in a row — and scored on all four drives inside the 20-yard line, including on marches of 81, 80 and 66 yards.

The Seahawks gave up 457 yards and remain last in the NFL in total defense at 444.5 per game. But they felt there was noticeable improvement, in part due to a six-defensive back “dime” package featuring Ryan Neal guarding tight ends instead of linebacker Jordyn Brooks. Seattle had nine pass defenses in the game compared with five in the first three games, a key in holding the 49ers to 2-for-14 on third down, as big a stat as any in the game and something Seattle hopes to repeat against the Rams.

After the win over the 49ers, Adams said the Seahawks “got our swagger and confidence back.” He noted that “we own the belt” in the NFC West and added that other teams “got to go through us. That’s our mindset. That’s our standard.”’

On Thursday, they get another chance to prove it.