DANNY ONEIL

O’Neil: More than faith that fuels pick of Seahawks over Rams

Dec 15, 2017, 3:19 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2017, 4:23 pm
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(AP)
(AP)

I don’t think the Seahawks are going to win on Sunday, so much as I don’t believe the Seahawks are going to lose.

And if that sounds like I’m trying to have it both ways, I’m not.

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I’m putting my faith in what Seattle has done during these six seasons in which Russell Wilson has been the quarterback. I’m trusting that over the injury report, the statistics and the relative age of the teams. In short, I’m disregarding all the trends and tendencies and indicators that I’ve learned to follow in the 13 years in which I’ve covered the NFL on a daily basis and I’m choosing based on heart.

Not my heart. Theirs.

The heart these Seahawks have shown again and again whether it was coming back from a 20-point deficit in the playoffs during Wilson’s rookie season to nearly reach the NFC title game to making back-to-back Super Bowl appearances to reaching the playoffs despite a 2-4 start in 2015.

Call it grit. Call it resolve. It’s going to be the reason Seattle wins this game at home on Sunday.

I don’t know if Seattle will end up making the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season even with that victory. I certainly don’t expect the Seahawks back in the Super Bowl given the way they’ve played this season.

But I do believe they’re going to win on Sunday despite the fact that the Rams are younger than the Seahawks, they are undeniably healthier and they are better statistically on offense and in their special teams.

Seattle’s defense is depleted by injuries, its offense is inconsistent and the Seahawks haven’t been nearly as productive on special teams as the Rams, who’ve blocked three kicks over the past two games and scored two touchdowns on blocked punts this season.

Those are all reasons the Rams should win. In fact, I reached that conclusion on Friday morning during a daily segment KIRO 97.3 FM. I even predicted a score: 24-21.

I am formally retracting that prediction, though, because I sat back and thought about exactly what happened in those other instances in which I’ve reached the eminently logical conclusion that they were going to lose.

Like trailing Atlanta by 20 points on the road in the playoffs in Wilson’s rookie season. Or scoring 15 points in 44 seconds during the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay to erase a 12-point deficit. Or heck, just last week, when the Seahawks trailed by 17 points with 10 minutes left on the road against the top-ranked defense and still wound up with the ball and a chance to win with 3 minutes left.

In fact, it took a dropped pass, a bad decision to step out of bounds and a missed penalty for the Seahawks not to win that game in Jacksonville.

So it’s more than faith that fuels this pick. It’s what amounts to six seasons worth of evidence that those situations in which you’re thinking the Seahawks are certain to lose that they’re likely to win.

The Seahawks win if … Jared Goff completes less than half his passes OR Todd Gurley finishes with fewer than 75 yards from scrimmage. Seattle accomplished both of those objectives back in Week 5 at Los Angeles, but it’s too much to ask the Seahawks to repeat that feat given all the injuries. But if Seattle can either contain Gurley or disrupt Goff, it will lead to opportunities that the Seahawks are really going to need against an offense that has scored the second-most points in the league so far this season.

The Rams win if … they don’t have a negative turnover margin. Los Angeles doesn’t need to have more takeaways than turnovers per se, but the Rams can’t be on the negative side of the ledger. Seattle is going to need something exceptional to happen to win this game. The Rams just need to keep everything ordinary.

The pick: Seahawks 26, Rams 24

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