The Seattle Seahawks (10-2) are on primetime yet again in Week 14, on the road in a divisional matchup against the Los Angeles Rams (7-5). It's a massive game for both teams as Seattle continues its pursuit of an NFC West Championship and Los Angeles is just a game back of Minnesota for a wildcard spot.
The last three games between these two teams have been decided by a combined eight points, so there's no reason why this one shouldn't go down to the wire as well. Here are five Seahawks players who will play crucial roles in whether or not Seattle is able to get the win Sunday night.
1. WR Tyler Lockett
Lockett has just four receptions for 64 yards over his last three games. Most recently, he was blanked on Monday night against the Vikings. Seattle's No. 1 wide receiver has had a tough go of it recently with a bad leg contusion followed by a nasty flu bug that was still clearly hampering him in the Minnesota game.
He should be nearing 100 percent if he's not there already. Seattle's passing game needs Lockett to regain his early season form where he racked up 767 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. It won't be easy on Sunday as there's a strong chance Jalen Ramsey shadows him on primetime.
2. LB Cody Barton
Barton played 11 snaps in place of Mychal Kendricks against the Vikings. Now Kendricks is doubtful to play with a hamstring injury which would give Barton his first-career start. It should be a tremendous challenge for the rookie as the Rams are still loaded with offensive playmakers even though Los Angeles' offense has been up and down in 2019. Pete Carroll suggested that the Seahawks would play more nickel in Kendricks' absence, but Barton will still be a factor on base downs.
3. CB Ugo Amadi
Speaking of nickel defense, this might be the game we finally see Amadi covering the slot. Akeem King played against the Eagles and Vikings but both of those teams utilized two tight end sets. That won't be the case against the Rams with Gerald Everett listed as out with a knee injury. Amadi should be a better matchup against Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods out of the slot. It will be interesting to see who Carroll opts to deploy.
4. RB Rashaad Penny
Penny has been on fire of late, and Seattle is banking on him continuing to roll. Over his last two games, the second-year running back has 203 rushing yards with three touchdowns and is averaging 7.0 yards per carry. He's also caught four passes for 33 yards and another score. Chris Carson will continue to start but Penny could earn up to a 50/50 split if he has the hot hand early. They've formed a 1-2 punch that the Seahawks believe is sustainable.
Los Angeles has been susceptible against the run at times this year. In Week 12, Baltimore ran for 285 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson combined for 206 yards on just 23 carries (8.95 average).
5. S Quandre Diggs
Carroll called Diggs' crushing hit against Irv Smith Jr. his favorite play of the game "by far" in Seattle's win over Minnesota. It's an oversimplification to give Diggs all the credit for the drastic uptick from the Seahawks defense – Ziggy Ansah, Tre Flowers, Rasheem Green, Jarran Reed and others have been playing much better of late – but it would be foolish to assume that it's just a coincidence. Diggs' speed, veteran savvy and playmaking ability has clearly had a trickledown effect throughout Seattle's defense.
In Week 5, the Rams gashed the Seahawks for 477 total yards. Diggs should be the difference maker who changes Seattle's fortunes this time around.
Week 14 preview: 5 Seahawks players to watch against the Rams originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest