Seahawks vs. Rams Odds & Picks: Take the Short Underdog In Sunday’s NFC West Showdown
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Jared Goff, Russell Wilson
Seahawks vs. Rams Odds
The NFC West division crown is up for grabs as the 9-5 Rams head on the road to take on the 10-4 Seahawks.
There’s no doubt that the Rams come into this matchup with a sour taste in their mouth after last week’s shocking upset loss to the previously-winless Jets as 17.5-point home favorites — the loss marked the biggest upset since the Football Team defeated the Cowboys, 24-17, in Week 14 of the 1995 season.
Nonetheless, with their Week 10 win over the Seahawks, the Rams control their own destiny in the race for the NFC West. However, the Seahawks currently hold a one-game lead over the Rams, and a win on Sunday would give the Seahawks their first division title since 2016.
In a de facto NFC West title game, oddsmakers have installed the hometown Seahawks as short favorites. Let’s find out who has the edge.
Los Angeles Rams
Sean McVay has dominated Pete Carroll and the Seahawks with a 5-2 record against them, winning by an average of 13 points.
Carroll’s defenses have had problems stopping the Rams, allowing 23 or more points in six of the seven meetings since he became head coach — the only exception was a 16-10 loss in 2017. Trends aside, it’s important to recognize how McVay has coached against Carroll’s teams in the past, but it’s irrelevant without discussing what happens on the field.
The Rams have the NFL’s most efficient rushing offense of 2020. However, with the absence of running back Cam Akers (ankle) and the Seahawks having a top-tier rushing defense, this Rams offense (which has the ninth-highest run vs. pass ratio at 44% run to 56% pass) will likely need to win through the air.
Of course, that means they’re relying on the inconsistent Jared Goff, whose splits with and without pressure make him a different quarterback.
With Goff being pressured on just 21% of dropbacks in the Rams’ Week 10 matchup against the Seahawks, he carved up a pass defense that was among the worst in NFL history at the time, completing 27-of-37 passes for 302 yards.
Given Seattle’s lack of pass rush over the past few years, it’s no surprise that the Rams have dominated them during McVay’s tenure.
The Aaron Donald-led Rams defense is second in sacks (44) and has 88 quarterback hits. The Rams sacked Wilson six times with 12 hits in the teams’ first matchup of 2020, and given Seattle’s injuries on the offensive line, we could likely see a repeat performance.
This defense is third in points allowed (19.2), fourth in defensive efficiency, fourth against the pass and seventh against the run. This defense is also first in expected points added per play and second in total success rate (per Sharp Football Stats).
There’s really no weak areas on this defense, and the Seahawks will likely want to run the ball to avoid the pass rush, but the Rams are giving up just 3.8 yards per carry with 35.5% rushing success rate. They’re also allowing just 29% of passes on third down to grade as successful.
With Jalen Ramsey being one of the few NFL corners capable of dealing with D.K. Metcalf, this Rams defense is in a prime spot to continue its success from Week 10.
The stats, metrics and advanced analytics tell us that the Seahawks are one of the best offenses in the league. They’re fourth in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, fourth in points per game (29.5) and fifth in total success rate (53%) and expected points added per play.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, this offense has been anything but one of the league’s best during the past four weeks.
Since the return of running back Chris Carson in Week 12, we’ve seen Seattle’s run vs. pass ratio skyrocket with its offense subsequently becoming more predictable.
The results haven’t been pretty, either: Since Carson’s return, the Seahawks have just a 49% success rate — 15th in the NFL — and are averaging a league-high 8 yards to go on third down.
Take a look at Seattle’s season-long metrics vs. their trending rates:
- Season-Long Passing Success Rate: 53% (sixth)
- Trending Passing Success Rate: 50% (11th)
- Season-Long Rushing Success Rate: 55% (first)
- Trending Rushing Success Rate: 50% (13th)
Russell Wilson has effectively played himself out of the MVP race since Week 10 with just 210.8 yards per game, nine touchdowns to five interceptions and two lost fumbles.
In addition, he’s taken 16 sacks over this span, largely because of how often this team finds itself in third-and-long situations. That doesn’t bode well against a Rams defensive line that sacked him six times and forced two interceptions in Week 10.
The Seahawks will be without 40% of their starting offensive line — tackle Brandon Shell is out with a high-ankle sprain and guard Mike Iupati is doubtful with nerve issues in his neck.
To put in perspective just how far Wilson and this passing game has fallen, in last week’s game against the Washington Football Team, he passed for just 121 yards on 4.5 yards per attempt with one touchdown and one interception — a far cry from the gaudy numbers we saw him put up earlier this season.
The strength of Seattle’s defense lies in its ability to stop the run, which is necessary against a Los Angeles offense that wants to run the ball. The Seahawks are 12th in rushing efficiency and 10th in rushing success rate while holding teams to 3.9 yards per carry, sixth among NFL teams.
They’ve also done this facing an above-average schedule of run defenses.
Their pass defense is suspect: They’re 24th in passing efficiency while facing the fourth-easiest schedule of opposing offenses. This defense particularly struggles to generate a pass rush, ranking 21st in pressure rate (21.6%) and 22nd in pass rush win rate.
Goff is a completely different quarterback when he’s under pressure, so this Seahawks defense is drawing dead if they’re unable to get to him.
Although they’ve given up just 14.6 points per game during their most recent stretch of games in which they’ve won four of five, they’ve played Kyler Murray on a short week coming off a shoulder injury, Carson Wentz, Colt McCoy, Sam Darnold and Dwayne Haskins. That definitely wouldn’t be considered a Murderers’ Row of quarterbacks, so Goff would be the best they’ve faced since Week 10 — when they faced Goff a week after facing Josh Allen.
This is the ultimate buy-low spot for the Rams, who will be looking to rebound from their 23-16 loss to the previously-winless Jets as 17.5-point home favorites.
One trend working in the Rams’ favor is that over the past 10 seasons, NFL teams that outright lose as double-digit favorite are 25-11-1 (69%) against the spread in their next game. We’ve actually seen this play out twice in 2020 with the Chiefs and Seahawks following up their losses to the Raiders and Giants with big wins. I expect the Rams to be the third.
The Seahawks aren’t winning with defense like they did in the Legion of Boom Era.
The Seahawks have lost to the Colt McCoy-quarterbacked Giants and gave Dwayne Haskins a (failed) opportunity to lead a potential game-winning drive for the Football Team.
This team has to win with offense. Unfortunately, Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has really stifled this unit by moving away from “letting Russ Cook” and back to the run-first philosophy that had this team playing from behind for much of the past few seasons.
Nevertheless, with a lack of pass rush from the Seahawks and an archaic offensive philosophy, it’s not a surprise that Sean McVay continues to dominate Pete Carroll: McVay is 5-2 straight-up in their series. I expect that to continue on Sunday.
There’s a reason sharp money moved this line from Seahawks -2.5 to -1 — the Rams have the better defense, and based on how the Seahawks choose to approach games, the Rams also have the better offense.
Outside of Wilson, the Rams are clearly the better team.
I’ll back the Rams in this spot and also add their +1400 odds to win the Super Bowl to my futures portfolio. Before their loss to the Jets, we saw sharp money hit the screen on Rams’ Super Bowl futures, but this feels like a solid play now with an even better number considering that a win against the Seahawks would put them in the driver’s seat of the NFC West.
Pick: Rams +1 (down to pick’em)