The Week 5 slate will kick off in an extremely exciting fashion when the Los Angeles Rams take on the Seattle Seahawks in primetime on Thursday night. On paper, this matchup has the potential to be this year’s most noteworthy TNF game since we had the pleasure of watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys in Week 1.
It promises to be a fierce encounter between two division rivals that will enter Thursday’s contest with a tint of desperation at bay. The 2-2 Seahawks will look to crawl back above the .500 mark, and although the Rams sit at 3-1, they will be looking to avoid their second straight division loss after they were thoroughly beaten by the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4. We expect the intensity level to be at an all-time high between these two familiar foes. The excitement inside Lumen Field will be palpable.
There are several intriguing one-vs-one matchups that will take place. Here are three heavyweight matchups we’re particularly excited to monitor.
D.K. METCALF VS. JALEN RAMSEY
What happens when an immovable force meets an unstoppable object? This certainly has the potential to be the marquee matchup of the night. The Rams have generally held Metcalf in check throughout his career. In two games against the Rams last season, Metcalf caught just eight passes for 87 yards while failing to find the end zone. Metcalf’s statistical impact against Sean McVay’s men last season becomes even smaller when isolated to reps where he was shadowed by Ramsey. The former Ole Miss product was held to just one catch for 11 yards on four targets despite squaring off with Ramsey on a healthy 53 of the 77 routes he ran against the Rams in 2020.
On the surface, you would expect the Rams to ask the uber-talented Ramsey to shadow a specimen like Metcalf in coverage. It makes sense, but the Rams haven’t asked Ramsey to shadow a single receiver this season, so we can only assume these two may not see one another on an every-down basis. We also expect the Seahawks to move Metcalf around the offensive formation by sending him in motion in hopes of avoiding Ramsey on occasion.
Metcalf will look to have a bigger impact against the Rams in 2021 than he did last season, and it has to start now.
AARON DONALD VS. SEATTLE’S IOL
It would be foolish of us not to highlight and showcase Donald in every single primetime game he takes part in. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner will have his hands full chasing Russell Wilson all night long, but that challenge pales in comparison to the one Seattle’s interior offensive linemen will be faced with.
It’s impossible for us to single out one member of Seattle’s offensive line for various reasons. Not only will the Rams move Donald all across their defensive line, as they've been known to do, but Seattle will also double and even triple team Donald on occasion. Donald has the upper hand in every matchup and it will be no different when he squares off with the trio of Damien Lewis, Kyle Fuller, and Gabe Jackson on Thursday night.
POONA FORD VS. BRIAN ALLEN
This battle may not feature the star power of the first two matchups we highlighted, but it’s just every bit as intriguing. An undrafted free agent out of Texas, Ford is an underrated and important member of Seattle’s front seven. The fourth-year defensive tackle has begun his 2021 campaign in fine form by recording several tackles behind the line of scrimmage through four games. You don’t find many NFL defensive linemen under 6-feet tall, but Ford is truly an outlier. He plays with excellent leverage and his 310-pound frame provides a spark plug up the middle of Seattle’s defense.
Ford spends most of his snaps lined up over the center, and he’ll encounter a good one in Los Angeles’ Brian Allen on Thursday night. The Rams entered the 2021 season with a big question mark at center, but Allen has been a heartwarming surprise for them thus far. New starting quarterback Matt Stafford has made note of Allen’s fine form.
“He’s been great,” Stafford said a little over a week ago. “He thinks like the quarterback and he sees things the way I see them. He’s making protection calls as I’m thinking about them and saying them.”
That rapport between a starting quarterback and his center is of the utmost importance, and McVay has been encouraged by the chemistry shown between the pair thus far. Allen will face a difficult task in the form of Ford but appears up to the tremendous challenge.