In this space last season, we anticipated the demise of the modern Seattle Seahawks.
It felt like change was on the horizon, and that the Los Angeles Rams were more responsible for accelerating that shakeup than any force outside the Seahawks facility.
L.A. was about to beat Seattle for the eighth time in 10 tries. Aaron Donald and the Rams defense uniquely tortured the face of the franchise and exposed Russell Wilson's deficiencies, few though they appeared to be at the time.
Less than twelve months later, it feels like Seahawks fans are grateful to have begun the transition when they did, believe the Seahawks picked the right lane, are optimistic about their present under Pete Carroll and Geno Smith, and are even more so about their future.
Denver, conversely, might regret not focusing more on the film Wilson put out there versus the Rams.
It's unlikely the Seahawks will be sending the Rams a Christmas Card this December, however. Their gratitude probably will remain private, which is fine.
Let's see if L.A. still has the solutions for Seattle.
2023 And Thee
As the Broncos continue to flounder, the Seahawks increasingly look like winners in that exchange.
The potential for four top-50 picks, including a pair of first-rounders, awaits Seattle this spring.
Plus, as the dead cap space from Bobby Wagner and Wilson comes off the books, they're in line for a nice budget in 2023 ↴
I bring this up not to tout the rivals from the Pacific Northwest, but only to remind ourselves of how quickly fortunes can swing in the NFL. Seattle was 7-10 last year, dead last in the NFC West, and parting ways with two franchise legends.
Now, I'd hate to see the Rams part ways with a practice squad contributor, much less legends. And we know that L.A.'s bounce back will have to be orchestrated differently, without the arsenal of high-end draft capital.
Nonetheless, if we can set aside the emotions of the moment, I'd still prefer to be the Rams of January 2023 than the Seahawks of January 2022, if that makes sense.
Bobby Deserves Better
Not much has worked out for the Rams this season.
But among the things that stings most about 3-8 might be the one thing that panned out perfectly: signing Wagner after he was released by the Seahawks.
The future Hall of Famer leads L.A. in tackles, has three sacks, hasn't missed a defensive snap, and is the top-graded middle linebacker in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
What a shame that his age-32 season, a prime one to be certain, isn't going anywhere. Yet to his everlasting credit, Wagner refuses to let a losing record weigh him down.
"It's a choice to come out here and perform and play well and study and work out and do the things you need to do to be great," the future Hall of Famer told the media this week.
"And the great ones do it, and the people who don't last in this league that long don't."
Let's hope Wagner, who earned six First-Team All-Pro selections with the Seahawks (a franchise record), can be in the lineup when the Rams play the regular season finale in Seattle in Week 18. He deserves a standing ovation.
In his nine-year career, Aaron Donald has more NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors than games missed due to injury.
And that won't change Sunday, even though he'll be in street clothes.
Dixon or Dickson?
You won't hear much about it on the Sunday morning shows, but Week 13 at SoFi Stadium could be the special teams matchup of the week.
Let's start with the punters: Riley Dixon for the Rams and Michael Dickson for the Seahawks.
"That kid's taken the league by storm," Dixon told me this week regarding his All-Pro counterpart from Seattle.
Dixon is coming off his most impactful performance of 2022 and was our guest this week on Rams Revealed.
The Syracuse native passed for a first down, hit a banana punt out of bounds at the Kansas City four-yard line, and his coverage unit recovered a muff by the Chiefs. Those are the game-changing plays in the kicking game the Rams are going to need to get back in the win column.
He's also a huge fan of Matt Gay, who has put together another phenomenal season, including a career-high-tying 58-yard field goal in New Orleans two weeks ago.
Sooner rather than later, I'd like to see Gay reset the record for longest made field goal at SoFi Stadium, set back in 2020 by Seahawks place kicker Jason Meyers: 61 yards.
Why would Sean McVay and the Rams go back to John Wolford this week, or utilize a two-quarterback system, instead of continuing to explore the potential of Bryce Perkins?
Albeit in a limited sample-size, there's public evidence that Wolford is the better passer of the two, and probably a whole lot more behind closed doors in Thousand Oaks, compiled through many seasons as L.A.'s backup.
The book is out on Seattle: Opponents have run all over them to victory, with the Buccaneers and Raiders being the two most recent exploiters of the porous Seahawks run defense.
But this infographic is worth keeping in mind for the week ahead.
The Rams have one of the most pass-friendly remaining schedules in the NFL – largely because of two games against the Seahawks and a third against Las Vegas, a contender for worst coverage unit in the league.
All that to say, Wolford's arm could be the best path to points, much as we're all intrigued by the play-making and wheels of Perkins.
Ultimately, it could be a combination of both this Sunday, as the Rams look to debunk the conventional wisdom regarding two-quarterback systems.
Beware of the 12s
Last week in a loss to Las Vegas, Seattle linebacker Darrell Taylor was on the sideline – at least at the snap – when Seahawks cornerback Quandre Diggs intercepted Derek Carr.
They're not playing at Lumen Field this Sunday. Nonetheless, the Rams better be on the lookout for a real 12th Man. So should the officiating crew.
Take a look at the best practice photos as Los Angeles Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey, running back Kyren Williams and more get ready to take on the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium this Sunday.