LOS ANGELES RAMS (9-4) AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-5)
SERIES HISTORY: 39th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 23-15. The two clubs met in Week 5, with the Seahawks holding on for a 16-10 win. Among the key factors, rookie WR Cooper Kupp let the potential winning touchdown pass slip through his fingers in the end zone. The Seahawks have won the last two meetings and 11 of the last 12 games in Seattle.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The NFC West lead will be on the line when the Rams and Seahawks meet. Los Angeles has a one-game advantage, but Seattle won the first matchup, 16-10 in Week 5.
Now the Los Angeles defense will have to contend with Seattle's Houdini-like quarterback. Russell Wilson has run and passed his way into the MVP discussion: He leads the team in rushing yards (482) has accounted for 32 of Seattle's 33 offensive touchdowns (29 through the air and three on the ground).
Aaron Donald and the other Rams pass rushers will need to pressure Wilson but also contain him.
The Seahawks' formidable home-field advantage and recent on-field success could be key in this matchup. The Rams haven't contended for a division crown in more than a decade.
Seattle will need Pro Bowl linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, both of whom are uncertain to start, if it hopes to contain Rams running back Todd Gurley again.
After Gurley's 13-carry, 96-yard performance last week against Philadelphia, Rams coach Sean McVay vowed to get his lead back more involved.
In the teams' first meeting, the Seattle defense limited Gurley to 43 yards on 14 carries.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Seahawks Gs Luke Joeckel and Ethan Pocic vs. Rams DT Aaron Donald. Donald has caused Seattle more problems through the years than just about any defender in the league. Joeckel and Pocic will have to keep Donald from ruining everything Seattle wants to do on offense.
--Rams WR Cooper Kupp vs. Seahawks CB Justin Coleman. Coleman will frequently be matched up with Kupp, who enters the game as Los Angeles' leading receiver. Kupp beat Coleman for what could have been a winning touchdown in the Week 5 meeting, only to have the ball bounce off his fingertips.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
LOS ANGELES RAMS
--Doubtful: QB Brandon Allen (back)
--Out: S Kam Chancellor (neck)
--Doubtful: DT Nazair Jones (ankle), LB K.J. Wright (concussion)
--Questionable: LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Seahawks SS Bradley McDougald. Of all the injury replacements on Seattle's defense, McDougald has provided the most seamless transition. McDougald has recorded at least eight tackles in three of the four games he has started in place of Kam Chancellor. While he may not provide the thumping presence in the box that Chancellor does, McDougald has proven capable of covering receivers downfield well enough to offset the loss of physicality.
FAST FACTS: Rams QB Jared Goff has 773 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in his past three games. He is 5-1 with 12 touchdowns and one interception in his past six road games. ... RB Todd Gurley leads the NFL with 13 touchdowns and ranks second with 1,637 yards from scrimmage. In his past four division games, he has 511 yards from scrimmage (127.8 per game) and four touchdowns. ... WR Sammy Watkins aims for a fourth game in a row with a touchdown. ... Rookie WR Cooper Kupp had a career-high 118 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 14. He leads NFL rookies in receiving yards (783) and ranks third in catches (56). His 56 catches are most by rookie in team history. ... LB Robert Quinn has four sacks and a forced fumble in his past three games. In 11 career games vs. Seattle, he has 12 sacks and a forced fumble. His 19 forced fumbles since 2012 are the most in the NFL. ... Seattle QB Russell Wilson ranks second in the NFL with 29 touchdown passes. He has 17 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, most in a season in NFL history. ... RB Mike Davis has 166 yards from scrimmage in his past two games. ... WR Doug Baldwin had 78 receiving yards and touchdown catch in Week 14. In his past four games in December, he has 368 receiving yards and three touchdowns. ... TE Jimmy Graham is tied for second in the NFL with nine touchdown catches. ... FS Earl Thomas had seven tackles, an interception and a forced fumble for a touchback in the last meeting.
PREDICTION: The Seahawks' defense was already banged up before linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright were injured in Jacksonville last week. With their status uncertain, Jared Goff and his weapons might find a reversal of fortune in Seattle.
OUR PICK: Rams, 24-19.