Will home-field incentive push Seahawks past Rams?
By Jim Moore
Like many others, I thought the Seahawks would crush the Cardinals last Sunday.
But Arizona prevailed 17-10, ending the Seahawks’ 14-game winning streak at Century Link Field.
Now the Rams show up as double-digit underdogs too. Are they going to spoil the Seahawks’ season and take away the No. 1 seed and NFC West championship?
Quarterback Russell Wilson’s running ability has been limited in the Seahawks’ last two losses — he ran just twice last week against Arizona, and once against the 49ers on Dec. 8. (AP)
You wouldn’t think so, but there’s more doubt about Pete Carroll’s team than there was a week ago.
The passing game sputtered against the Cardinals. Russell Wilson wasn’t Russell Wilson, completing 11 of 27 passes. All of a sudden, after praising them for 14 games, some of us are wondering about the receivers.
The running game has been off for five weeks. Marshawn Lynch is averaging 55 yards the past five games. In the last three games, the Seahawks are averaging 13.3 points.
If you think they’ll magically get it going against the Rams, remember that their worst offensive output happened in St. Louis when they escaped with a 14-9 win after gaining just 135 yards, 80 on one TD play from Golden Tate.
I’d like to see Wilson run more than he has. And where has the read option gone? Remember that blowout of the Bills in Toronto last year when Wilson had three rushing TDs in the first half? Where’s that been? Maybe that would loosen things up for Lynch and the passing game.
Defensively, the Seahawks gave up 200 rushing yards to the Rams and allowed St. Louis to go 96 yards on its last drive. Fortunately the Rams needed 97 to win, and Seattle survived an incomplete pass in the end zone on the last play of the game.
The Seahawks have the best defense in the NFL, so this is quibbling, but when you have that kind of defense, you shouldn’t allow game-losing fourth-quarter drives after your offense takes the lead. That’s what happened against the 49ers and Cardinals and nearly happened against the Rams.
In the last three meetings with the Seahawks, the Rams have won by six points, lost by seven and lost by five, suggesting that this game will be close too. They’re 3-0 against the spread in those games and are getting 11 ½ in Sunday’s game.
Why would they be 11 ½-point underdogs when they have pass rushers like Robert Quinn and Chris Long, who combined for six sacks of Wilson in the last game?
Why would they be 11 ½-point underdogs when the Seahawks’ offense has scored only 17 points off of 10 turnovers in the last three games?
I guess it has to do with Vegas not thinking the Seahawks will lose two in a row at home. Not thinking that the Seahawks will lose three of its last four games. Not thinking that the offense will continue to struggle.
And Vegas knows about the Seahawks’ incentive — the difference between winning and losing is the difference between a bye and two home playoff games and playing three road games to get to the Super Bowl.
Plus for as good as the Rams can be, they’re not that great on the road, going 2-5 and allowing an average of 23.7 points and 372 yards. In the last three road games, Zac Stacy has rushed 59 times for 159 yards, an average of only 2.7 yards per carry. This is a guy who ran for 134 yards against the Seahawks.
When I add it all up, I think the Seahawks will win, but just barely, by the slightest of margins.
Prediction: Seahawks 17, Rams 16.
Season record against the spread: 9-6.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for his website jimmoorethego2guy.com and kitsapsun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.