LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-12) at SEATTLE (9-9)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT, FOX
OPENING LINE: Seahawks by 5 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
SERIES RECORD: Seahawks lead 27-24.
LAST MEETING: Seahawks beat Rams 19-16 in OT, Jan. 8, 2023, in Seattle.
RAMS OFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (T-27), PASS (27), SCORING (27).
RAMS DEFENSE: OVERALL (10), RUSH (13), PASS (21), SCORING (T-21).
SEAHAWKS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (18), PASS (T-11), SCORING (9).
SEAHAWKS DEFENSE: OVERALL (26), RUSH (30), PASS (13), SCORING (25).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Rams minus-1; Seahawks plus-2.
RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Matthew Stafford. The moves the Rams made to become a Super Bowl winner with Stafford at quarterback have now come back to leave their roster gutted and lacking the talent they had two seasons ago. Stafford will be playing in front of a mediocre offensive line and for the opener will be without top pass catching target Cooper Kupp. Stafford missed half of last season with injuries, but seems re-energized at the chance to see how competitive he can help make his team this season.
SEAHAWKS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Geno Smith. Welcome to Year 2 of Smith being in charge in Seattle. Year 1 was about as big a surprise in recent memory in the NFL. Nearly a decade removed from being a full-time starter, Smith stepped into the vacancy created by Russell Wilson’s trade to Denver and helped lead Seattle to the playoffs. Smith threw for 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns in the regular season and silenced countless doubters.
KEY MATCHUP: Rams secondary vs. Seahawks wide receivers. Seattle will roll out one of the better wide receiver trios in the league with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The Rams said goodbye to cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill, and safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott in the offseason and will rely heavily on late-round picks from recent seasons to step into bigger roles.
KEY INJURIES: Kupp is the biggest loss for the Rams because of a hamstring issue. ... Seahawks S Jamal Adams won’t play as he continues recovery from a torn quadriceps tendon suffered in the 2022 season opener. ... LB Jordyn Brooks is expected to play after undergoing surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee last January. ... Smith-Njigba will play despite having surgery for a small fracture in his wrist a couple of weeks ago.
SERIES NOTES: The Seahawks won both games last season, including an overtime win in Week 18 that combined with Detroit’s win over Green Bay got Seattle into the playoffs. Prior to last season, the Rams had won five of the previous six and eight of the past 10 matchups.
STATS AND STUFF: The Rams are coming off their worst season under coach Sean McVay. ... QB Matthew Stafford appeared in just nine games last season because of injuries. Stafford needs 10 TD passes to move into 11th place on the all-time list, passing Fran Tarkenton. ... RB Cam Akers had a career-best 903 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns last season. ... With Kupp out, the top pass catching option may be TE Tyler Higbee, who had 72 receptions last season. ... Steve Avila, the Rams’ highest draft pick since 2016, is likely to make his NFL debut as their starting left guard. … Aaron Donald is back from the only significant injury absence of his career. The seven-time All-Pro missed the final six games of last season with an ankle injury. He’s also no longer the highest-paid defensive player in the league, getting passed by Nick Bosa this week. … Spokane native Brett Rypien will be Stafford’s backup after rookie Stetson Bennett was ruled out with a shoulder injury. Los Angeles isn’t expected to have a third quarterback active. … The Rams have 15 rookies on their roster, making them the second-youngest team in the NFL. … Los Angeles debuts an entirely new group of specialists with kicker Brett Maher, rookie punter Ethan Evans and long snapper Alex Ward. ... Seattle is 5-0 in Week 1 home games under Pete Carroll. ... Smith set career highs in completions (399), yards passing (4,282), touchdown passes (30), completion rate (69.8%) and passer rating (100.9) last season. Smith’s 10 games with a passer rating of 100 or higher and two touchdowns were the most in the NFL last season. ... RB Kenneth Walker III led NFL rookies last season in yards rushing (1,050), rushing touchdowns (nine) and yards from scrimmage (1,215). Walker was slowed by a hamstring injury during training camp but is expected to be a full-go for the opener. ... WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both topped 1,000 yards receiving last season. Metcalf had 90 receptions and six touchdowns; Lockett had 84 receptions and nine touchdowns. ... Edge rushers Uchenna Nwosu and Darrell Taylor tied for the team lead with 9½ sacks last season. ... CB Riq Woolen was the first rookie since 2016 with six interceptions and three forced fumbles last season. Woolen’s six INTs tied for the league lead.
FANTASY TIP: With the Rams offense missing Kupp, the best chance of Los Angeles may be a big game from Cam Akers. Last season, Akers rushed for 104 yards and had another three catches for 24 yards in the Week 18 matchup. Seattle’s run defense was 30th in the league last season and while the Seahawks say the run defense will be better, it must first be proven.