Rams (0-0) at Seahawks (0-0)
Spread: Seahawks -5
Weather: No concerns
The line for this game opened with the Seattle Seahawks favored by 4.5 points before quickly jumping to Seahawks -5.5. From there the line jumped around between those two numbers throughout August, while currently settling in at Seahawks -5.
The total for this contest opened at 47.5 before gradually dipping all the way down to 45.5. After a few bounces between 45.5 and 46.5, the total is currently settling in at 46 points.
Seahawks Offense vs. Rams Defense
Seattle’s offense is in a potential smash spot, as the Los Angeles Rams defense is filled with question marks outside of the great Aaron Donald. Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker re-aggravated a groin injury he suffered in early August, putting his status for Sunday in doubt.
The Rams were a middle-of-the-pack run defense last year, where Walker exceeded 100 yards rushing in one of their two meetings. If Walker can’t go, that sets up second-round pick Zach Charbonnet to take on a major workload. Charbonnet becomes a virtual must-start in fantasy in that scenario, where veteran DeeJay Dallas will also factor in.
Geno Smith threw for more than 300 yards and three scores in one of his meetings with the Rams last season. Los Angeles gave up the eighth-most receiving yards to wide receivers and the second-most fantasy points to boundary receivers. That sets up nicely for athletic freak DK Metcalf, who was 12th in the league in perimeter snaps last season. Tyler Lockett saw nearly two-thirds of his snaps on the boundary as well. Smith, paired with Metcalf and/ or Lockett is a high-upside game stack for DFS players.
Rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s status for the opener was in doubt after he suffered a wrist injury this preseason. It turns out that Smith-Njigba will play in this contest as he’s completely off the injury report as of this writing. He was the first wide receiver taken in this year’s draft, so he has considerable upside, though it would be no surprise if Seattle eased him in early in the year.
Noah Fant is a talented tight end surrounded by one of the best skill groups in football. His week-to-week usage will be hard to predict, and this is a neutral matchup for Fant.
Ultimately, Seattle can do serious damage through the air or on the ground in this contest. All of their key pieces have above-average upside in this matchup.
Rams Offense vs. Seahawks Defense
Matthew Stafford is at least a borderline future Hall of Famer, so an offensive surge can never be entirely ruled out for the Rams. That said, Cooper Kupp will miss this contest, which puts the Rams wide receiver room in a state of flux.
Van Jefferson had several spike games with Stafford in 2021, but Jefferson is more of a complimentary role player than a headliner. Former second-round pick Tutu Atwell is small and speedy, but he’s only exceeded 50 yards receiving two times as a pro.
Rookie Puka Nacua has been a buzzy name this offseason. He’s a reliable, sure-handed wide receiver who achieved little to no separation against non-NFL talent in college. Nacua wouldn’t sniff the field in many wide receiver rooms, but he does have a path to significant playing time in Kupp’s absence.
Seattle allowed the second-fewest receiving yards to wide receivers last season and their secondary should be better this season. Prop lines are low for all of these options, so we’d lean towards passing on the entire group.
Veteran tight end Tyler Higbee is capable of considerable spike weeks despite being a low aDOT player. Seattle gave up the second-most receiving yards to tight ends last season. Higbee could realistically lead the Rams in targets against Seattle.
Cam Akers leads the Rams backfield while second-year running back Kyren Williams could take on a more pass-centric role. Akers finished last season with three straight 100-yard games on the ground behind at least 19 carries.
Seattle gave up the sixth-most rushing yards and fifth-most receiving yards to running backs last season. However, the Seahawks added significant talent to their front seven this offseason.
What To Bet On
Seattle is in the driver’s seat in this matchup as they could hang 30-plus points on the Rams’ collection of unknown defenders. Smith and the Seahawks’ run game do not even need to play their very best to achieve that type of result.
On the other side of things, Stafford is a dangerous man who can’t be completely counted out. That said, he’s without Kupp and Seattle’s defense is among the most improved units entering opening day. The Seahawks were a wild-card team last year that improved virtually everywhere this offseason. There are several paths to them winning this game by a full score or more.
If you are betting on the Rams, you are betting on Stafford and Sean McVay to exceed expectations on offense. Or, you’re betting on Smith to turn back into a pumpkin coming off his unexpected Comeback Player of the Year run last season. The bet on McVay and Stafford to keep this close is far more reasonable than any kind of bet on the Rams’ defense.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 31, Rams 17
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-40
Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014 and has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.