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2021 NFC Wild Card Preview: Rams vs Seahawks

In the only 2021 NFC wild card matchup that pits two divisional foes against one another, the LA Rams will head up to Seattle to face a Seahawks team that is fresh off of winning its first NFC West division title since 2016. The teams split their games this season, with each team winning once at home. The second matchup was a recent one, however, one that saw the Seahawks come away with a 20-9 victory just 8 days ago. That game decided the winner of the NFC West division, with the Seahawks coming away with the crown and leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of everyone associated with Rams football.

NFC Wild Card Rematch

When told after the Rams most recent win, a week 17 defensive domination of the Arizona Cardinals, that the Seahawks were going to be the Rams" next opponent; superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald, with a smile, had just one thing to say:

That"s what we wanted

-Aaron Donald

While the Rams definitely feel they can beat the Seahawks, as evidenced by the 23-16 victory LA had over Seattle on November 15th, the ‘hawks surely feel the same way. Heading into the NFC wild card game, Seattle is playing as balanced as any team in the league. Not many clubs right now are boasting a capable offense AND defense. When the 2020 season started, it was the offense that carried the Seattle squad while the defense sputtered. Now, it is a balance between an above-average defense and an efficient offense that has the Seahawks clicking on all cylinders.

A Whole Lot of History

Seattle and Los Angeles first met in the 1976 season and have played a total of 46 times with the Seahawks holding the overall advantage 25-21. All but seven of those matchups have come as divisional opponents within the last 25 years. Under Sean McVay, the Rams are 5-3 against the Seahawks, and under Pete Carroll, Seattle is 11-11 against LA. This, despite the fact that Carroll took over a Seahawks team that had beaten the Rams ten straight times. This will be the first time these two have met in the playoffs since the 2004 NFC wild card game, which was won by the Rams 27-20.

Can the Seahawks Offense Step Up?

Despite all of the accolades and attention that Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf have received this season, the past two months have not been as excellent as the first two. Since the loss to the Rams, if you take out the outlier game against the Jets, the Seahawks are averaging just 21 points per game. That will most likely not get it done in the NFC wild card game, even against a depleted Rams offense.

Down the stretch, Seattle has depended less on Wilson and more on Chris Carson. All year, Carson has been given between 12-19 touches in every game. However, that number is gradually rising over the last month. He has double-digit carries in all of Seattle"s last five games. Could they be readying to unleash him this postseason?

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Will the Rams Be at Full Health?

The Rams played their last game without starting quarterback Jared Goff, number one receiver Cooper Kupp, and leader of the defense, Michael Brockers. The team was able to overcome those losses against an equally banged-up Cardinals team but will need to be at full strength to have a chance in their NFC wild card game. Kupp and Brockers are hoping to clear the Covid-19 protocols in time for Saturday"s showdown, and Goff is trying to make his way back from a dislocated thumb suffered in the week 16 to the Seahawks.

If Goff is forced to miss another game, John Wolford would make his first postseason start and second start of any kind in his NFL career. Wolford played well against Arizona, but could possibly get exposed in an NFC wild-card game against a Seattle pass-rush that has been a top-ten unit for the past two months. The unit, headlined by all-world blitzing safety Jamal Adams, is fresh off of a five-sack performance against the Rams in week 16. A matchup between Wolford and Adams would be fascinating.

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NFC Wild Card Prediction

This game could determine over a decade"s worth of postseason bragging rights between the fans and players of each team. The Seahawks and Rams always play each other tough and this one should be no different. The familiarity between the franchises, especially with the week 16 game being so recent, makes this game one of the most exciting NFC wild card matchups of the weekend. It will come down to scoring touchdowns. On the year, Seattle is fifth in the league in red-zone scoring rating and the Rams defense is number one in the NFL with just 29 total TD"s allowed. Something has to give, and the old saying for the playoffs comes to mind. Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.

Prediction: Rams over Seahawks 23-19

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