Trash those bad Rams predictions? Eight takeaways from win over Seahawks

The Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 30-13, on Sunday at Lumen Field in Seattle.

What we learned from the Rams’ season-opening victory:

Forget the oddsmakers and pundits preseason narrative…for now

It’s only one game. The first game. And that rarely tells the whole story — or an accurate one — about whether a team will contend for a playoff spot.

But the Rams, who have an over/under of 6½ wins per FanDuel sportsbook, showed they might be a team capable of making a run for something other than the right to select USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick.

The operative word: Might.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford looked great, the receiving corps stepped up in Cooper Kupp’s absence, the offensive line held up and the defense shut out the Seahawks in the second half.

A tougher test comes Sunday, when the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers, a 30-7 winner Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If the Rams knock off the 49ers, they are legit.

Matthew Stafford is far from being done

At 35, Stafford does not have the resumé of Aaron Rodgers or the mobility or trendy accolades of younger quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow, to name a few.

But not so fast on putting Stafford in the second-tier.

Without Kupp — his security blanket — Stafford spread the ball to young receivers, passed for 334 yards and did not commit a turnover. His first third-down pass to tight end Tyler Higbee was a bullet. He made a sensational pass to rookie Puca Nacua, and he probably would have added a touchdown if a wide-open Van Jefferson had not dropped a pass.

Puka Nacua is not an average rookie

Nacua was a fifth-round draft pick but played like a first-round pick against the Seahawks.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Nacua started in place of Kupp and caught 10 passes for 119 yards, the most yards receiving in history by a Rams player in his first game.

That was not a shock to Rams coaches and teammates.

They have been raving about Nacua’s ability to adjust to the pro game almost from the moment he arrived for offseason workouts.

“He’s as mature a rookie as I’ve ever been around,” coach Sean McVay said.

Tutu Atwell lived up to his draft position

The Rams have been criticized since they selected the diminutive Atwell in the second round of the 2021 draft.

Atwell showed flashes last season, however, and made plays all over the field during training camp and preseason practices. Stafford regularly congratulated him in the field and complimented him during interviews.

Stafford connected with Atwell six times for 119 yards, including a 44-yard gain.

Kupp is on injured reserve and will be sidelined the next three games.

In the meantime, look for Atwell’s role to continue to expand.

Kyren Williams could be the go-to short-yardage back

Williams, slowed by injuries during much of his rookie season, showed he could find the end zone against the Seahawks.

He scored the Rams’ first touchdown on a one-yard run in the first quarter and helped them regain the lead for good with a seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Williams finished with 52 yards in 15 carries.

The much-maligned secondary passed its first test

Pro Football Focus ranked the Rams secondary as the worst in the NFL. Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf said last week that he could not name a player in the unit.

But the Rams limited Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith to 112 yards passing.

Metcalf beat cornerback Derion Kendrick for a 10-yard touchdown, but Kendrick also broke up a potential touchdown pass.

The pass rush is coming on

On consecutive plays in the fourth quarter, rookies Byron Young and Kobie Turner combined for one sack and Aaron Donald and Michael Hoecht combined for another.

The Rams hit Smith seven times.

It was a decent showing for a first game.

The Rams will need to turn up the pressure against the 49ers’ Brock Purdy and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow.

Kicker Brett Maher showed resilience

The Rams signed Maher to the practice squad on Aug. 30 and elevated him to the roster for the game.

It remains to be seen whether Maher can be as reliable as Matt Gay was the previous two seasons, but Maher rebounded from a rough start and helped the Rams pull away for the victory.

Maher’s first attempt from 57 yards was blocked. His second from 56 yards missed wide right.

He followed with kicks from 38, 54 and 45 yards in the second half.

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