Before the Detroit Lions take the field against the Green Bay Packers, all eyes will be on the 4:25 p.m. ET matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. For the Lions to be playing for a playoff spot on “Sunday Night Football,” they need the Seahawks to either lose or tie that football game.
On the surface, it looks like a tall task. The Seahawks are playing for their own playoff lives—needing a win and a Lions win to make it—while the 5-11 Rams are injured, lacking an identity, and have only pride to play for on Sunday. Seattle is also a 6.5-point favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook, so the outlook doesn’t look great.
However, I’m here to tell you to not give up hope. There is a realistic chance the Rams can pull off an upset here. And I’m not going to back up my points with platitudes like “division games are weird” or emotional narratives like “Bobby Wagner revenge game” or “Rams rally for Sean McVay’s possible last game?.”
No. Here are five cold, hard facts and reasons why the Rams could win on Sunday.
The Seahawks home field advantage hasn’t been strong this year
For years, the Seahawks have had one of the strongest home field advantages in the NFL, but that hasn’t been the case in 2022. They are just 4-4 in Seattle this year and have lost three of their last four at Lumen Field.
Now, it’s worth noting that just one of the Rams’ five wins has come on the road this season, but considering Los Angeles often has to go silent counts at home, they’re certainly prepared for some elements.
The Rams can run the ball. The Seahawks have struggled to stop the run
Despite all the injuries on the offensive line, the Rams have been able to establish a pretty decent rushing attack over the past couple months. At the center of that is Cam Akers, who is starting to finally look like himself after his Achilles tear last season. In the past seven games, Akers has 105 rushes for 506 yards (4.82 YPC) and six touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks have one of the worst run defenses in the league. Since Week 10, they rank 29th in run defense DVOA. And for the season they rank 30th in rushing yards per game allowed (150.5) and rank 26th in yards per carry allowed (4.8).
Big surprise, but it’s supposed to rain in Seattle on Sunday. The ground game could be very important.
The Rams nearly beat them a month ago
The two teams played each other back in Week 13, and the Rams nearly walked away with that win, despite holding just a 3-8 record to Seattle’s 6-5 record. With 2:56 left in the game, Akers scored the go-ahead touchdown to take a 23-20 lead. Unfortunately, Geno Smith would lead the Seahawks to an 11-play, 75-yard drive for the win.
It’s worth noting that the Rams’ quarterback in that game was John Wofford, and he played horribly. He went just 14-of-26 for 178 yards and two interceptions. Do the Rams win that game with Baker Mayfield? I guess we’ll see this Sunday.
The Seahawks can’t pass rush
The Rams’ biggest disadvantage right now is their pass protection. They rank 27th in PFF’s pass blocking, have given up the fourth most sacks in the NFL, and rank 31st in pressure percentage allowed.
Thankfully, the Seahawks don’t present a huge threat in that department. Yes, they did get four sacks in the previous matchup, but on a week-to-week basis, this is one of the worst pass rushes in the league. They rank 28th in PFF pass rush grade, 30th in pass rush win rate, and 19th in pressure percentage.
Mayfield, who can be a decent quarterback when kept clean (103.9 passer rating with a clean pocket per PFF), could have a more comfortable day than usual.
Straight up: The Rams have been the better team over the past month
In the past four weeks—since the Rams acquired Baker Mayfield—Los Angeles is 2-2, and the Seahawks are 1-3. Granted the Rams’ wins have come against the Raiders and Broncos, but it was just over a month ago that the Seahawks lost to the Raiders at home.
And looking at some advanced statistics over the past month, these two teams are a lot closer than the Vegas line would suggest.
DVOA rankings since Week 14
- Seahawks: 17th
- Rams: 19th
EPA rankings since Week 14
- Seahawks: 24th
- Rams: 14th
- Seahawks: 19th
- Rams: 20th
Put it together, and look at these tiers:
I understand this is a small sample size, and the Seahawks have faced a much more difficult schedule over this time period (Panthers, 49ers, Chiefs, Jets). However, it’s worth pointing out just how much better the Rams have been playing with Mayfield at the helm.