After splitting the first two meetings during the regular season, the Rams and Seahawks will square off in a playoff tiebreaker on Saturday afternoon at Lumen Field. The winner will advance to the divisional round, while the loser will head home after going one-and-done in the playoffs.
There are a lot of factors that will decide the outcome of this game, among them individual matchups between players and coaches on both sides. Can Jalen Ramsey shut down DK Metcalf again? Will the Rams be able to move the ball on the ground against the likes of Poona Ford and Jamal Adams?
Here are six of the biggest matchups to watch on Saturday afternoon.
Rams CBs vs. Seahawks WRs
(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
It’s hard to pinpoint just one specific CB-WR matchup in this one because they’re all equally important. The biggest is Jalen Ramsey against DK Metcalf, of course, but in their last meeting, the Seahawks moved Metcalf around a lot in an attempt to “hide” him from Ramsey, as John Johnson put it. Darious Williams picked off Russell Wilson twice in Week 10 and did an excellent job against Tyler Lockett, as did Troy Hill in the slot. The Seahawks rely on big plays and deep shots to make their offense go, and preventing those types of plays are a strong suit of L.A.’s defense. They’ve allowed just one touchdown pass and recorded six interceptions on deep passes, allowing a league-low 10 completions. https://twitter.com/NextGenStats/status/1345868642676858880
(AP Photo/Scott Eklund)
No one enjoys playing the Seahawks more than Floyd, apparently. He has five sacks against Seattle alone this season, consistently getting pressure on Russell Wilson from his outside linebacker position. Floyd almost exclusively rushes against right tackles, so he’ll see Shell often on Saturday. When rushing against the Seahawks, you not only attempt to pressure Wilson, but you’re also required to contain him in the pocket, which makes facing Seattle more challenging. If Floyd gets too far upfield with his rush, Wilson will find an escape lane to his right. If Floyd doesn’t get deep enough, Wilson will get around the corner. Floyd has to keep up his stellar play against the Seahawks on Saturday if the rams are to keep Seattle in check.
Cooper Kupp vs. Ugo Amadi
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Amadi is the one who typically covers the slot for the Seahawks, which could match him up with a number of different receivers because of the way the Rams line up on offense. Kupp caught eight passes on nine targets for 66 yards in that game, so the big plays weren’t there but Jared Goff did have success looking No. 10’s way. Kupp is back this week after missing the season finale, and Sean McVay said he’s looking fresh in practice. So getting contributions from Kupp will be critical given the talent Seattle has at its outside cornerback positions, specifically with Shaq Griffin.
Cam Akers vs. Jamal Adams
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Adams is dealing with a shoulder injury, but he’s vowed to play on Saturday against the Rams. That makes life much tougher for the Rams, both when attempting to throw the ball and run it. On the ground, Adams is extremely active. He sets the edge well, takes away interior runs and consistently makes plays around the line of scrimmage. Heck, if not for Adams, the Rams might’ve beaten the Seahawks in Week 16; he made a touchdown-saving tackle on Darrell Henderson near the goal line, and the Rams didn’t score on the drive. Akers has to make Adams miss in the hole and in the open field if the Rams are to get the rushing game going.
Brandon Staley vs. Russell Wilson
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
In two games against the Rams this season, Wilson has one touchdown pass and two interceptions. He’s thrown for 473 total yards and completed 42 of 69 passes. Those aren’t exactly great numbers for a player of Wilson’s caliber, and it’s a testament to the job Staley has done against him thus far. It’s a chess match when facing the Seahawks and their cast of playmakers. Staley has to draw up a smart game plan against Seattle by mixing up coverages, matching up his corners with Seattle’s receivers and finding creative ways to pressure Wilson.
Austin Blythe vs. Poona Ford
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Ford has played really well at nose tackle for the Seahawks this season and while Blythe did a decent job keeping him in check in Week 16, he’ll have to be even better this time around. Ford is a big-time run stuffer who can also pressure the quarterback, even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. He has nine QB hits and eight tackles for loss to go along with two sacks, putting together his best season as a pro. Whether it’s Goff or John Wolford at quarterback, interior pressure up the middle will be a problem. It’s up to Blythe to keep Ford away from the quarterback because he can throw off a game plan when he gets rolling.