NFL 2017 Week 5: Seattle Seahawks vs Los Angeles Rams preview and prediction

It's a huge opportunity for the Rams to put some distance between themselves and the perennial NFC West bully Seahawks.

The Rams won a key road showdown with NFC powerhouse Dallas, beating the Cowboys 35-30 to move to 3-1 on the young season. Greg Zuerlein was the unlikely hero, booting seven field goals to bail out an offense that bogged down often in the red zone. Jared Goff did throw two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 52-yard score in the third quarter to Todd Gurley, who totaled 215 yards of offense. The Rams defense struggled to contain Dallas but forced two turnovers and stopped a crucial two-point conversion attempt late in the contest.

The Seahawks spoiled an upset attempt by the Colts when they scored 28 consecutive fourth-quarter points to gain a 46-18 victory, putting their record at 2-2. Russell Wilson started the streak off with a 23-yard scramble for the tie-breaking touchdown in the third quarter. Rookie running back J.D. McKissic then added a 30-yard touchdown run to make it a 14-point lead. The defense got into the act when Bobby Wagner ran a fumble 21 yards back for a score, before Wilson closed out the onslaught with a 27-yard pass to McKissic.

The statement game

The win last week over Dallas on the road was a huge one in terms of the Rams proving that they belong as a possible playoff contender. But this would be even bigger, because it would give them a two-game advantage on their division rival Seahawks plus a tiebreaker. More than the standings though, it could be a psychological mountain to climb, considering how Seattle has dominated this division since the beginning of the decade.

Another game, another running back

Just when Seattle thought that it had found its lead running back, they have to start the search all over again. Chris Carson’s injured ankle suffered last week knocked him out for the season just when the rookie started to assume control of the position. That brings oft-injured veterans Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy back into the picture. J.D. McKissic, fresh off a surprising two-TD performance, will likely be the change of pace. Seattle needs some combination of them to be effective.

As Gurley goes

Looking for an early MVP candidate in the NFL? How about Gurley, who has rebounded from an awful sophomore season to thrive in new coach Sean McVay’s offense. He leads the NFL with seven touchdowns, is second in rushing, and leads the Rams in receptions and receiving yards. The Seahawks defense has had early season issues containing running backs like Carlos Hyde and DeMarco Murray. It won’t get any easier against Gurley.

Rams WR Sammy Watkins vs Seahawks CB Richard Sherman

Watkins has had one big game so far for the Rams but has otherwise taken a backseat as Jared Goff spreads the ball around. Still, his threat has helped draw defenders away from Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Goff’s other targets. Sherman won’t ask for any help in taking away Watkins, so it will be interesting to see if Goff challenges the star corner with his own standout receiver.

Fantasy Football: Rams WR Robert Woods

With Sherman dealing with Watkins and the Seahawks excellent middle-of-the-field defenders shadowing Kupp, Woods could be a fallback target for Goff against Seattle’s Jeremy Lane. Woods is not a big-play guy but he could pile up a bunch of short pass receptions in this one, making him a PPR flex option for teams left shorthanded by the bye week.

Betting Line

Both teams want this game pretty bad, but the Seahawks need it. Take the 2 1/2 points that Seattle is getting.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 21-20 Los Angeles Rams

The Rams will struggle to move the ball for the first time all year and Russell Wilson will do just enough.

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Jim Beviglia

Jim is a freelance writer concentrating on music and sports. He is the author of four books and writes for several online and print publications. He lives in Old Forge, Pennsylvania with his wife Marie and his daughter Daniele.