Seahawks have eyes on playoffs, but Rams hoping to play spoiler
Playing at Lumen Field for the first time since the Seattle Seahawks unceremoniously released him during the offseason, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner looks forward to the opportunity to keep his former team out of the postseason.
“To be in a position to spoil their playoffs hopes is always a good position,” Wagner said this week. “It’s something worth playing for. It will be fun to go back there and be back in front of those fans where I spent so much time. It should be fun game.”
Should you bet on Geno Smith and the Seahawks at home against the Rams?
FOX betting analyst Sammy P breaks down the Week 18 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks.
Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by Seattle, Wagner spent his first 10 seasons with the Seahawks, earning eight Pro Bowl invitations and helping them win the Super Bowl after the 2013 season.
The Utah State product finished with seven tackles, two sacks and an interception in his first matchup against his former team earlier this season, a 27-23 loss for the Rams.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll expects fans to welcome back Wagner with open arms on Sunday (4:25 p.m. on FOX).
“They’re going to be great,” Carroll told reporters this week. “They love him. I think they’re going to welcome him back. I just think that’s what’ll happen. Then if he makes a tackle or something, then maybe they don’t give him as much love.”
At 8-8, the Seahawks need a win over the Rams, along with the Detroit Lions‘ defeat or tie of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field to reach the postseason in the NFC playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
The 5-11 Rams have lost the most games in league history as a defending Super Bowl champ but look to finish things on a positive note after a humbling season.
Matchup to watch: Rams RB Cam Akers vs. Seahawks defensive front
The Florida State product is playing his best football of the season, with 348 rushing yards and four touchdowns over the past four games, two of them victories for the Rams.
Akers totaled 60 yards on 17 carries in an earlier matchup against Seattle, helping the Rams ground out 171 rushing yards against Seattle’s much-maligned run defense in Week 13.
“He always has been a hard runner,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said about Akers this week. “He has really great contact balance, unbelievable leg drive. He does a great job lowering his pad level when contact is coming. He’s a very talented runner is what I would say about him.”
Seattle’s run defense continues to be one of the week’s spots of this potential playoff team. The Seahawks allow 150.5 rushing yards a contest, No. 30 in the NFL. Seattle has allowed eight different players to rush for over 100 yards against them this season.
Key stat: The Seahawks are averaging just 15.3 points per game over the last three weeks, tied for fifth worst in the league. Seattle had been averaging 26.3 points per game through the first 14 weeks of the NFL season, which was No. 6 in the league.
Prediction: The Rams have won four of their last five games against Seattle. However, with a postseason berth on the line, the Seahawks should have some urgency with more to play for this weekend.
A victory for the Seahawks would be a nice way to end a storybook, comeback season for quarterback Geno Smith, who leads the league in completion percentage (70.2 percent) and has surprisingly carried Seattle’s offense in the absence of Russell Wilson, now struggling in Denver.
Seahawks 28, Rams 20
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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