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Jim Moore Predicts: Seahawks won’t get blown out by Rams at home again

The Rams sacked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson seven times in a game last December. (AP)

Through four games, the Seahawks are 2-2. If I were to give them a first-quarter grade, it would be a C+. They’re not bad, not good, right on pace for my guess of an 8-8 season.

Seahawks notebook: Wright still out, Carson to return vs Rams

I still think they have a decent shot of being 4-3 after seven games and in the thick of a playoff race given the so-so nature of the NFC aside from the Rams. After hosting the Rams this week, the Seahawks will be favored to beat the Raiders in London next week and might be favored to beat the Lions in Detroit in two weeks. If they’re not favored, they’ll be slight underdogs and certainly capable of winning that game.

Then they’ll play six of their next nine games at home, increasing their chances of a 9-7 or maybe even a 10-6 season. A 9-7 record might be good enough to squeeze in as a wild card this year.

I mention all of those things first because I’m in no hurry to get to this week’s game against the Rams. Even the most passionate 12s are having a hard time trying to figure out how the Seahawks can win.

On the surface, the Rams have the better offense and better defense. They’re 4-0 and look like they could go 16-0. They’re averaging 35 points and giving up 16.8 points a game. They appear to be unstoppable on offense, and part of the pessimism from Seahawks’ fans stems from the last time these two teams met – the Hawks lost 42-7 at CenturyLink Field last December and were totally outclassed.

So everyone thinks it will probably happen again, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it did, but there’s hope. The Seahawks are seven-point underdogs, not 70-point underdogs. Seven-point underdogs occasionally beat the favorite. It’s not like it would shock Vegas if the Seahawks upset the Rams.

If you don’t believe me, here’s what I told Danny O’Neil on Wednesday: If you’re so certain the Rams will blow out the Seahawks, go to Vegas and bet everything you have on Sean McVay’s team to win by more than seven points. Trust me, based on experience, every time you think a team looks like a sure thing in a game, it’s not.

I might not be making a whole lot of sense here, but then again, when do I? Point is, I can see some glimmers of hope for the Seahawks in this game. There aren’t many, but there are certainly enough to think an upset’s possible.

I’m not a fan of the Seahawks’ run-run-run and run some more philosophy on offense. It’s boring, but that’s what they want to do. They believe it gives them the best chance to win. And they’re especially right in a game like this one. I’ll repeat what I said Wednesday – the Rams can’t score if they don’t have the ball. I know, some wise guy on the text toy said that they can score with a pick six or a fumble return, but let’s just agree that their odds are reduced if they don’t have the ball when a play starts.

If the Seahawks can move the chains and keep the ball on long drives, they will limit the Rams’ opportunities. In fact, I think this will happen frequently enough that the Rams won’t reach their 35-point average in this game. Certainly the Seahawks have to convert their third downs this week after going 0 for 10 against Arizona.

If you don’t think that strategy will work, I still feel like the Seahawks would have a chance in a shootout. Sounds ridiculous, but bear with me. In the last two weeks the Rams have given up 23 points to the Chargers and 31 to the Vikings – that’s an average of 27 points. The defense we have heard so much about with the offseason additions of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib isn’t as great as we thought it would be. On top of that, Talib won’t play because he’s injured.

We’re concerned about what that Rams’ defensive line, particularly Aaron Donald, might do to Russell Wilson after it registered seven sacks in that 42-7 win last year. But guess what? The Seahawks have more sacks than the Rams this year, 9-8.

I’m more concerned about the Rams’ strength on defense negating the Seahawks’ strength on offense – Los Angeles is fifth in the league in rush defense, allowing 86 yards a game. And as much as we think the Seahawks are suddenly hell on wheels in the running game, they’re not, averaging 105.5 yards a game, good for only 17th in the league. It’s just that compared to what we saw last year, the Seahawks are vastly improved with their run game.

If they get into a high-scoring game, the Seahawks will have a chance for two reasons: 1) The Rams are 15th in pass defense, allowing 247.5 yards a game, suggesting vulnerability through the air, especially minus Talib; 2) If they use more play-action than they have, Wilson could have a huge day. In fact, for the Seahawks to win, I think he needs to throw for more than 300 yards on Sunday.

It’s actually ridiculous they haven’t incorporated more play-action passes in their game plan. According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson has only used play-action on 17 percent of the Seahawks’ pass plays this season, the eighth-lowest percentage in the league. Yet Wilson leads the NFL in play-action passer rating.

Heaps’ Film Room: Play-action pass is a key for Seahawks

And don’t forget the impact the 12s can have on a game at CenturyLink Field. Plus this is the first game the Rams have played outside the state of California – their first game was in Oakland, and the last three have been home games at Memorial Coliseum. Plain and simple, road games are oftentimes an equalizer for home underdogs.

I get it, the Rams have the superior team. They look like they’re on the way up – or farther up than they already are – and the Seahawks are in transition to whatever’s next. I suspect we’ll see a lot of fight from the Seahawks before they’re edged at the wire. Rams 27, Seahawks 24.

Washington (-21) at UCLA

It’s rare when I pull for the Huskies. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it happened. But I will this week. I can’t stand Chip Kelly, and I’m hoping the Dawgs trample his Bruins and do their part in sending Kelly’s team on its way to an 0-12 season. Dawgs 45, Bruins 3.

WSU (-17) at Oregon State

The Beavers have given up record-setting numbers on the ground the last two weeks against Arizona and Arizona State, but the Cougs don’t run much. And the Beavers have a pretty solid running game themselves. I think the Cougs will win, but it’s going to be a close one in Corvallis. Cougs 38, Beavers 34.

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