If last week’s Philly game was important, Sunday’s NFC West showdown against Seattle is critical for the Rams’ playoff hopes. It’s an absolute must-win against an arch rival on the road. Excited yet? Here are the players the FPC Rams staff feel will rise to the challenge.
Andrew Kelly – Robert Quinn
Don’t look now, but Robert Quinn is starting to look like… Robert Quinn. With four sacks and a forced fumble in his last three games, the former Pro Bowl defensive end is hitting his stride at the right time for the Rams. Add to his recent hot streak the fact that he’s got 12 sacks in 11 games against Russell Wilson, and Andrew’s pick is right on the money here – look for the Mighty Quinn to harass the elusive Seahawks quarterback all game long.
Brian Joanou – Tyler Higbee
Brian’s selection of tight end Tyler Higbee here is likely contingent on the availability of Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who remains a game-time decision with a hamstring injury. If Wagner can’t go, Higbee should be able to take advantage of backup linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who isn’t known for his coverage skills. K.J. Wright is also in the concussion protocol, and may not suit up. Higbee had 98 yards on four catches in week five, when the Hawks were more or less at full strength. Brian’s predicting a field day from Higs this Sunday.
Scott Wagner – Robert Woods
Welcome back, Robert Woods! Yes, Cooper Kupp did a great job filling for the Rams leading receiver these last few weeks, but having the reliable and polished playmaker back in action is welcome news for Rams fans. I don’t predict much drop-off in timing or production for the Goff to Woods connection in this one, and see Woods having a 100+ yard game against the depleted Seattle secondary. If the Rams are to win, his return will be one of the bigger deciding factors on the day.
Mike Cahill – Lamarcus Joyner
Seattle can’t run the ball, and seemingly can’t throw it for 3.5 quarters, either. What they CAN do is connect on deep throws late in games to make things interesting, and free safety play will be critical in making sure those bombs fall silent. LaMarcus Joyner’s physical, steady play on the back end has been a big improvement in the Rams secondary this year. Without a doubt, if he can help eliminate some of Wilson’s late-game playground heroics, the Rams will leave Century Link with a two-game lead in the NFC West.
Martin Smith – Nickell Robey-Coleman
NRC’s impact in the slot has been measurable this year, but with the Kayvon Webster injury, the USC product will be even more crucial making plays in the passing game. If his play against Philadelphia is any indication, he may be an upgrade here, as he looked fantastic last weekend. Aggressive, feisty, and a sure tackler, Robey-Coleman will have an edge over any #2 wide receiver Seattle can throw at him. In FPC’s bold predictions this week, many of us are calling our shots with a pick-six. If it happens, don’t be surprised if it’s Robey-Coleman taking one the other way.
Andrew Irvin – Aaron Donald
Did I mention Seattle can’t run the ball? Even against the Rams porous rush defense, their average line and a rotating cast of street free agents at running back will have a hard time getting on track on Sunday. Aaron Donald will be a big reason why, but more importantly, 99 will be able to have his way on the pass rush all day long. He’s more or less unblockable and coming off one of his quieter performances this season. Couple that with the magnitude of this game, and Donald will be set to destroy.