Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay isn’t tipping his hand ahead of the NFC Wild Card matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The status of quarterback Jared Goff is a secret on par with the Masked Singer, only to be revealed before kickoff on Saturday.
If the NFL betting odds tell us anything, it’s that the early money is expecting to see Goff – or at least not valuing him that high. The Rams opened at the safety net of +5 and are starting to tick down, currently sitting at +4.
Check out our NFL free picks and predictions for Rams vs. Seahawks on January 9.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Betting Preview
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Rams: Jared Goff QB (Questionable), Cooper Kupp WR (Probable), Michael Brockers DL (Probable), Joe Noteboom OL (Probable), Cam Akers RB (Probable), David Edwards T (Questionable), Andrew Whitworth T (Probable), Micah Kiser LB (Questionable).
Seahawks: Shaquill Griffin CB (Questionable), Chris Carson RB (Questionable), Carlos Hyde RB (Probable), Jamal Adams S (Questionable), Mike Iupati G (Probable), Greg Olsen TE (Probable), Duane Brown T (Questionable), Bryan Mone DT (Questionable), Jarran Reed DT (Questionable).
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Betting Trend to Know
The Rams are 9-4-1 ATS in their last 14 vs. NFC West rivals. Find more NFL betting trends for Rams vs. Seahawks.
Against the Spread (ATS) Pick
These NFC West rivals played just two weeks ago, with the Seahawks taking a 20-9 victory as 1.5-point home chalk in Week 16. Goff was rotten in that loss, completing just 24 of his 43 passes for 234 yards, no touchdowns and one interception – but he was throwing with a broken thumb in the second half.
The Rams don’t need Goff to be great to win football games and after knocking off Arizona at home with backup John Wolford under center last week, L.A. may not need Goff at all. The defense will continue to be the beating heart of this franchise in the postseason, and enters the Wild Card Round with momentum.
Los Angeles has allowed a total of just 53 points over the past four games and has collected 17 QB sacks in that span (53 in the regular season – second-most in NFL). The Rams are giving up only 4.6 yards per play over their previous three outings (it’s also their league-best season average) and did a fantastic job checking Russell Wilson and the Seahawks attack in 2020.
In the two games versus L.A. this season, Wilson has gone just 42 for 69 (61 percent) for a collective 473 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and has been sacked 11 times. Seattle, which averaged 28.7 points per game on the year, posted offensive efforts of only 13 and 20 points in those meetings with the Rams.
If Goff does give it a go, this spread could tick down to a field goal – even though his always-erratic throwing will be impacted by that surgically-repaired thumb. But I’m more sold on this dominant Rams defense and getting L.A. above the key number in what will be another tight matchup between these rivals.
Since McVay took the head coaching gig in L.A., five of the past eight meetings between the Rams and Seahawks have been decided by a touchdown or less.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles +4 (-110)
While Wolford doesn’t pose the same passing prowess as Goff, he does throw a curveball at defenses with his ability to scramble. The Wake Forest product and former AAF quarterback rushed six times for a team-high 56 yards, giving Los Angeles a more mobile out when passing plays fall apart.
McVay didn’t limit Wolford in the passing game either, perhaps trusting him more than Rams bettors would like. That said, the offense can’t lean on the shotgun as much to give Wolford that buffer like it did in Week 17, as the playbook is too easy to decipher in what is the third go-around with Seattle this season.
Part of L.A.’s plan to subdue Wilson will be keeping him parked on the sideline. The Rams run game had success against Seattle in both meetings this season, carrying the ball 29 times in each of those games for a total of 224 yards and time of possession totals of 32:50 and 33:36. Los Angeles finished as the second-best TOP team in the league.
The Seahawks defense has stepped up in the second half of the schedule, making this team a legit contender if it can continue to lock down opponents. Since Week 10, Seattle has given up just 16 points per game which is a wild deviation from the average 30.4 points the team allowed in the first eight outings of the year. That could be a little tougher in the Wild Card Round depending on the status of key stoppers like safety Jamal Adams and DT Jarran Reed, who missed practice early in the week with injuries.
As for the offense, it’s also done a 180 since the midway mark. Wilson & Co. were shattering scoreboards with a NFL-high 34.2 points an outing heading into Week 10, but have since produced just over 23 points per contest, including four efforts of 20 or less.
This total is low with Goff’s injury serving as an anchor at 42.5 points. But even with him in – and even if he was healthy – this game will be another low-scoring grinder. The Rams and Seahawks have stayed Under the number in 15 of their last 22 meetings.
PREDICTION: Under 42.5 (-110)
Player Prop Pick
Seattle’s defensive game plan will be to stack the box and force the Rams to put the game on Wolford’s arm.
As we often see with second-string passers, they can struggle through progressions and opt for the check down quickly, which means plenty of looks to the tight ends and short receiving targets. Rams TE Tyler Higbee saw Wolford throwing his way four times for three receptions in Week 17. Higbee turned those targets into 41 yards and has been a much bigger part of the offense in the past month, totaling 176 yards on 12 grabs for an average of almost 15 yards per reception in that span.
The Seahawks’ pass defense is far from elite, ranked 20th in pass defense DVOA at Football Outsiders, and has padded its recent stats against a list of backup quarterbacks or QBs that lost their starting gig before the end of the season.
They’ve also been beaten up by opposing tight ends, allowing a total of 869 yards (11th-most in the NFL) on 75 receptions—an average of 11.6 yards per catch. Higbee had three receptions for 34 yards versus Seattle in Week 16 and three catches for 60 yards against the Seahawks in Week 10.
PREDICTION: Tyler Higbee Over 25.5 receiving yards (-123)
Rams vs Seahawks Betting Card
- Los Angeles +4 (-110)
- Under 42.5 (-110)
- Tyler Higbee Over 25.5 receiving yards (-123)
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