And so it begins..
The 2020 Seattle Seahawks have returned to the playoffs, and this time around as the NFC West Division Champions. They will be defending the cold wet turf Lumen Field from the dreaded Los Angeles Rams, a team that certain to be fueled by the deep thirst of revenge.
Any Twelve nervous about this match up cannot be blamed for it. The Rams give any sensible mind a cause for concern, and they are largely owned this series for the last four years.
Aaron Donald simply is not human. No way. This dude is a 6-1 285 pound Orc Berserker that does things to offensive guards that no other being in a football uniform can do in terms of speed, power, and skill, and he does it was ease. He was also captured on film after the Rams defeated the Cardinals smiling into the camera with glee saying that playing Seattle again was exactly what his team wanted.
Aaron Donald wants to eat Russell Wilson, and he will be aided by a shutdown corner in Jalen Ramsey who will be determined to take away Russell’s favorite weapon in DK Metcalf. Their defense will present another menacing challenge for Seattle. Bank on it. Embrace it.
But here is the rub. Russell Wilson is not human either. He is a magical nimble forest creature who can out maneuver his foes with fleet feet and can send footballs to his receivers with arrow like precision whenever on the run, and the game is on the line. Once you think you have him had, he can start turning on that magical juice at any time, and if he gets hot, you’re in trouble, no matter how good your defense is.
This is essentially going to be the crux of this battle for Helm’s Deep. Does Aaron Donald and company feast on Russell Wilson, or does Russell Wilson have it within himself again to beat another top level defense with his arm and legs as the game progresses?
Seahawks beat the Rams by..
Not cowering to Donald and his orc army of defenders. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer must devise a plan that will use Donald’s aggression against him. Like Bruce Lee, they must be water, my friends, on offense.
When Donald is in pass rush mode, perhaps that is the time to run right at him with a large offensive line that will have all five of its starters back for the first time in quite sometime. Donald is a terror when it is third and long, but you if can get on him and drive block him, he can be pushed around. It might be wise for Seattle to run at Ramsey as well and force him to be a run defender. It is also likely that the Rams will be thinking that Seattle will attack often with short passes, especially with the game Tyler Lockett just had against the 49ers. With a healthy offensive line, and a healthy set of running backs, there could be opportunities with the ground game against the looks the Ram defenders will be giving. Staying with the run might be the wise move in this match.
But staying with the run does not mean abandoning the pass game for it. It means using the run to set up the pass a bit more, and that means getting Russell Wilson moving. This is the single biggest must for Seattle, in my opinion. Last time around a couple weeks ago, Schottenheimer had Russ pocket passing often against this club, and it was a struggle. When the game took off for Seattle was when Russell Wilson took off with his feet outside the pocket and he was able to make plays with his arm and legs there. Play action and boot legs make Wilson tougher to defend than defending him from the pocket, especially when there is an effective run game going. It forces the defense to use a spy on him, and while that might limit his ability to run for bigger gains, it leaves a hole open in the defense. In short, another way to use Ram aggression against them is to have the defenders thinking about Russell Wilson on the move. Play action, bootlegs, zone read could all factor in here.
On the flip side, if Seattle stays true to who they are on defense and continues to defend the edges against the run, and not be fooled by the motions the Ram offense loves to use, the Rams are going to have another hard time against the squad. The Rams will be healthier at running back with Cam Akers back this time around. He’s a really good back for them, and will be a factor. Another difference in this game could be with Rams starting John Wolford at quarterback over Jared Goff, if Goff is not recovered enough from his thumb injury. Wolford can tuck the ball and run, and that is a dimension that Seattle would have to be ready for.
Discipline will be the key for the Seattle defenders, as it always is against these Rams. If Seattle cannot play with Jamal Adams at safety and Jarran Reed at defensive tackle, it is up to the replacements to carry on. I really like what Seattle still has inside with Poona Ford at defensive tackle, and LJ Collier as an interior pass rusher, and I like what Ryan Neal has done in the past as a replacement to Adams. Even without Adams and Reed, Seattle could very well be fine here.
Seahawks lose to the Rams by..
Getting out of their assignments on defense and allowing McVay’s offense to take advantage. If Wolford is playing, McVay might try to use his legs as an added dimension for Seattle defenders to think about. This could test Seattle’s discipline. Seattle should be ready for this, but if they aren’t, that could be trouble.
Seattle can’t find enough ways to run the ball, the Rams figure out ways to limit Russell from making plays outside the pocket, and this all leads to a one dimensional offense that will be limited against a top level Ram defense. Ways this could happen could be penalties on run and pass plays that lead to third and longs. Seattle must play a relatively clean game against this defense. They cannot be plagued by false starts and holds. If they are, it could be an especially ugly affair, and a painfully early playoff exit.
Pain. This game will be another heavy weight slug fest, but the Seahawks will prevail, winning it, 23-17.
The Rams will get pressure on Russell Wilson and it will probably happen early and often for a while, but as the game wears on, Wilson will find ways to beat the Ram defenders. Conversely, I think the Rams will try to roll out with Jared Goff, but will end up with Wolford playing, and that might spark their offense a bit more, but it will likely be a little too little too late.
I think Jamal Adams will gut out and play with gimpy shoulders, and Jarran Reed will tough it out as well. There might be mixed results in this, but I feel like at least one of these two guys will make a key play or two as the game progresses.
I have a sneaking suspicion that rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks is going to have another big game, and I think Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde will be big time factors on offense to help open things up for Wilson with their hard charging running. I also think DK Metcalf will have a bigger game in this one this time around.. just a vibe I’m feeling.
Make no mistake, though, it won’t always be pretty, but Russell Wilson and company will prevail at Helm’s Deep. The good guys win this one.