NFC West title up for grabs as Rams, Seahawks meet

LEFT: Running back Malcolm Brown #34 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes the football against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 06, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 38-28. (Photo by Chris

There’s the old "Any Given Sunday" expression that the National Football League has used for years to highlight the unexpected nature of the game.

Last week in Los Angeles’ sparkling new SoFi Stadium, the living example of Any Given Sunday took place when the 0-13, tanking for Trevor Lawrence New York Jets walked in and upset the NFC West leading Los Angeles Rams.

What that given Sunday did was up the ante for the Rams and the Seattle Seahawks on this given Sunday. Because this one at Lumen Field in Seattle (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) goes from a really important game to a defacto division championship game.

If Seattle wins, the race is over and the Seahawks (10-4) will likely be the three seed in the NFC tournament. If the Rams (9-5) win, they can clinch the division title with a win in Week 17 over the Arizona Cardinals thanks to two head to head wins against the Seahawks.

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The sports betting information

On Sportsbook, the Seahawks are 1 ½ point favorites on Tuesday night with a money line of minus-125. (A $125 bet is needed to win $100.) The Rams are +105 (a $100 bet will win $105.) The over/under total is 47 ½ points.

The Rams are 8-6 vs. the spread this season while Seattle is 7-7. On the over/under, the Rams have played the second most games where the under has been the winning side with only four games going over the total points. The Seahawks have had six of their 14 go over the number.

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The history

This is the second meeting of the year between the division rivals. In the first game back on November 15, the Rams defense forced three turnovers- including two Russell Wilson interceptions- while Malcolm Brown scored two short-yardage touchdown runs as Los Angeles won 23-16 in California. That was the second of back-to-back losses for Seattle in their roughest stretch of the season with road games in Buffalo and Los Angeles.

Overall, the Seahawks lead the series 24-21. Los Angeles, however, has won five of the last six in the series.

The storylines to watch

At the beginning of the season, Seattle was a one man band and they were going only as far as Wilson took them. Through Nov. 1 – seven games- Wilson had four 300 yard passing games, 24 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. (Three INT’s came in a loss at Arizona in late October.) In the next seven games since then, Wilson has slowed down with just one 300 yard passing game, 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. So why are the Seahawks still winning? Defense. In the first eight games of the season, the Seahawks allowed less than 400 yards offense only once. Since then, they have allowed more than 350 yards of total offense only twice in six games with no opponent passing for over 300 yards.

If you want an example of Jekyll and Hyde, check out the Rams offense and quarterback Jared Goff. Goff  in wins is really good- a 102.4 passer rating, a 72 percent completion rate, 13 touchdowns to five interceptions and a 7.79 yards per attempt. In five Los Angeles losses, his completion rate drops to 60.2 percent, his touchdown-to-interception ratio is an awful 7 TD/7 INT and his quarterback rating drops to a bench-worthy 76.5. Those numbers have been highlighted in the final two months of the season – Goff has eight touchdowns, eight interceptions in seven games this year. After being strong offensively in the first half of the year with five games of over 400 yards total offense, the Rams have only posted two in last six weeks and were held to a meager 303 last week against the Jets. Los Angeles should make the tournament no matter what happens, but its fate as a true Super Bowl contender from the weird NFC may rest on the results of Sunday.

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