NFL Playoff Odds & Picks For Rams vs. Seahawks: Bet On A Low-Scoring Wild Card Matchup
Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson, Aaron Donald
NFL Odds: Rams vs. Seahawks
The Rams and Seahawks will meet for the third time this season on Super Wild Card Weekend. After splitting the regular-season series, this game will be for bragging rights and a chance to advance to the Divisional Round.
This will be the 11th time that teams in the same division have met in the playoffs since 2010. The Rams and Seahawks are fairly familiar with one another, which could mean that points will be hard to come by. Let’s dive into this matchup to see if we should expect that theory to hold on Saturday.
Los Angeles Rams
There aren’t enough plaudits to describe this Rams defense. They led all teams with four defensive players on the 2020 Pro Football Focus All-Pro Team — pretty impressive considering that PFF grades players on every snap they play on the season.
The Rams are much more than just individual players. Football Outsiders ranks them fourth in defensive DVOA. Frankly, I would have thought they would be even higher considering they’ve allowed the fewest yards per play (4.6), yards per game (281.9) and points per game (18.5).
While the Rams defense does a good job keeping points off the board, their offense has struggled to put points on the board. Despite winning 10 games this season, the Rams average only 23.2 points per game, which puts them 23rd in the league and last among teams that won 10 games.
It won’t get any easier to score if they don’t have Jared Goff, who recently underwent surgery to repair a broken thumb. If Goff plays, you have to wonder how bothersome it’ll be for his throwing hand, considering that he’s already thrown the second-most interceptions (13) this season.
If Goff can’t go, then his backup John Wolford will get the nod. Wolford was able to step in for Goff in Week 17 to help the Rams clinch a playoff berth against the Cardinals.
Goff is listed on the injury report and has been a limited participant in practices so far this week (find daily updates here). Linebackers Micah Kiser (knee) and Natrez Patrick (groin) have also been limited in practice, along with lineman David Edwards (ankle).
Seattle’s defense isn’t as formidable as that of Los Angeles, but the Seahawks have played better over the second half of the season. In their first eight games, they allowed 30.38 points per game compared to 16 points in the second half of the season. This improvement has vaulted them to the 16th position in defensive DVOA.
Despite their poor start defensively, the Seahawks finished the regular season allowing 5.5 yards per play, good enough for 12th in the league. Over their last three games, their performance has been even better as they’ve allowed just 4.7 yards per play, which puts them fourth behind the Rams in that same span.
While Seattle’s defense has improved over the second half of the season, the offense has gone in the opposite direction. The Seahawks were averaging 29.62 points per game over the first half of the season, but in the second half, that number was down to 23.13 points.
So much for letting Russ cook, I guess.
The truth is that, while the Seahawks may not be putting up those gaudy points, they’re actually much more of a balanced team. Per Sharp Football Stats, Seattle is ranked 22nd with 45 explosive pass plays, but fourth with 60 explosive run plays.
With an average of 4.8 yards per rush, the Seahawks remain a dangerous team because their rushing attack helps to create play-action opportunities down the field.
The Seahawks listed 14 players on this week’s injury report. Cornerback Jason Stanley and defensive lineman Bryan Mone are the only players who did not practice on Wednesday. Safety Jamal Adams has already announced that he fully expects to play this weekend despite his shoulder injury — he was limited in practice on Wednesday after not practicing on Tuesday. Also limited on Wednesday was defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
There are no secrets between these two teams, given that this is a divisional matchup and the third time that they’re playing one another this season. Since 2005, when NFC divisional teams meet for the third time, the total is 7-2-1 to the under (per our Action Labs data).
In their two previous meetings, the Rams and Seahawks combined to score 68 points, and each matchup stayed under the total.
In their last eight games, the Seahawks are 7-1 to the under while the Rams are on a four-game under streak and are 8-2 to the under over their last 10 games.
The total is 15-7 to the under the last 22 times these teams have met.
There are plenty of data points that support this under, especially given how stingy both defenses have been down the stretch. The injury to Goff is also significant, especially if he won’t be at full strength.
BetMGM has this total listed at 42.5, and there’s a chance it dips further before kickoff. I’ll look to lock this in at the current price, but I wouldn’t go any lower than 41.5 points.
Pick: Under 42.5