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Russell Wilson Stands between Rams and Winning NFC West

December 15th, 2017 · No Comments · Football, NFL, Rams

The Los Angeles Rams can take a huge step toward winning the NFC West for the first time since 2003 if they win in Seattle on Sunday.

The Seahawks can be had.

The Legion of Boom is decimated, Seattle’s linebackers are wobbling, the offensive line is porous and the club might be 5-8 instead of 8-5 if not for one man:

Russell Wilson.

But that is one hell of a man.

Some suggest Wilson should be the leading candidate for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, or they did after Seattle’s first 12 games, at which point Wilson had accounted for 29 of Seattle’s 30 touchdowns — 26 by passing, three by rushing.

He was particularly heroic while out-doing Carson Wentz in a 24-10 victory over the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles on December 3. Wilson threw for three touchdowns with no turnovers, and his MVP campaign picked up speed.

Wilson ran into a bit of trouble in a 30-24 loss at Jacksonville last weekend, suffering three interceptions before leading a fourth-quarter surge that cut a 20-point deficit to six.

The Rams, then, are faced with coming up with strong performances throughout the squad if they want to win in Seattle, before the Seahawks’ noisy fans and in rainy weather, and beat back one-man-gang Russell Wilson, in the process.

The Rams are fairly healthy, ahead of their most significant game since 2004, their most-recent appearance in the playoffs. The players are in fairly good shape, considering this is their 14th game, and a few are returning from injury, led by Robert Woods, their best receiver.

The outcome may hinge on how efficient Rams QB Jared Goff can be in a noisy stadium (he struggled in the Minnesota noise) and whether the Rams can keep Wilson from taking over the game, especially in the final 15 minutes.

Wilson does not have much help, at the moment.

His blockers are battered and the Seattle defense will be without Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, secondary stalwarts who are out for the season, and inside linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner may not be ready to go.

If the Rams can run their offense efficiently, via coach Jim McVay and Goff & Friends, they ought to be able to put up 20-some points.

Wilson, however, might match or exceed that.

He is the anti-Goff.

The Rams’ second-year QB is part of a system. Goff is about the coaching staff’s play-calling and his rote repetition of basic movements — and accurate passing.

Wilson presents many more problems.

His ability to turn what looks like a sack into a 15-yard scramble is well-known. He can throw deep and accurately while on the run and sometimes seems to prefer to do so. As long as he has the ball in his hand, no play (and no game) is over, and his teammates and opponents know it.

(Goff does not yet inspire that sort of confidence or fear.)

The stakes are about as high as they can be, for the Rams, who are 9-4 and could take a two-game lead atop the NFC West, which they last won with Mike Martz calling plays and Marshall Faulk piling up yards.

A defeat, however, leaves them at 9-5, with the Seahawks, who would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, having already beaten the Rams 16-10 back in October.

The Seahawks have been synonymous with success since Wilson joined the team, in 2012; they have made five successive playoffs appearances and played in two Super Bowls.

Over the same period, the Rams have been about frustration and failure.

The Rams have shown signs of reordering the power structure in the NFC West, but here is a moment when they need to step forward.

If they do not take charge, Russell Wilson will.


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