Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams
Site: Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Missouri)
It is time to get back to business. After last week’s thrilling win over Green Bay, the Seahawks travel to St. Louis to face the division rival Rams. The Seahawks enter this game at 2-1, tied for second place in the NFC West. The Rams are in last place in the division with a record of 1-2. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 17-11. Their last meeting was last season. On December 12th, 2011 the Seahawks defeated the Rams on Monday Night Football by a score of 30-13. Here is what I will be looking for and expecting out of the Seahawks this week.
On the road, it is imperative that the Seahawks focus on protecting the ball. I do not believe this will be an issue. Russell Wilson has done an outstanding job making sure there are no mistakes and no turnovers. Like I proposed last week, I think our best option on offense this week is to establish the running game with Marshawn Lynch. Although this is important I also would not be surprised to see some peculiar calls in certain situations. I think we might see offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell split the 1st down play calls 50/50 between passing and rushing. Something else I would like to see the Seahawks run this week is more no-huddle. On our final drive against Green Bay, Wilson was effective in moving the ball in chunks without a huddle. If we can keep the Rams guessing, I would fully believe to see no-huddle formations called, especially early on in the game.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Golden Tate continue to emerge as our best overall receiver this week. Tate has arguably become Russell Wilson’s favorite target and it would not surprise me at all if Tate leads the Seahawks in receptions on Sunday. Having said this, it would be great to have Wilson spread the ball around more effectively then he has in the first three games. If the Rams defense can frustrate the Seahawks running game, the passing game becomes extremely necessary. I think Wilson will have his hands full and may throw a couple interceptions.
If there is one thing I hope the Seahawks defense has done this week in preparation for this weekend’s game, it’s that I hope they took a good amount of time breaking down the Rams film from their game last week against Chicago. The Bears defense was able to sack Rams quarterback Sam Bradford 6 times. The Seahawks defense, coming off an 8 sack performance last week, can take a lot from the Bears approach on how to penetrate the Rams offensive line. I think the defense will have a very successful day. The defense and the special teams have had some of their best performances recently in St. Louis and I expect nothing less this week.
One potential head-to-head battle I will be keeping my eye on is Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan against Seahawks offensive lineman Breno Giacomini. When you think of head-to-head matchups you probably don’t think of a cornerback versus an offensive lineman but there is a reason why I bring up these two guys in particular. Finnegan is an outstanding player who is probably best known for his trash-talking abilities. Finnegan can get under the opponent’s skin very easily and it is this ability that helped earn him a spot of the player’s top 100 players of 2012. Through 7 games this season (both preseason and regular season) it is clear to me that Breno Giacomini is the one player that always is a candidate to draw personal foul penalties. I think Finnegan will be at full force trying to get Giacomini to snap and commit a penalty that could really hurt the Seahawks. Definitely be on the lookout this weekend for Finnegan vs. Giacomini.
The St. Louis Rams may not have one of the best defenses, but they have some of the best individually talented players in the league. Chris Long is one of the games most prolific and underrated pass rushers who could definitely take advantage on a Seahawks offensive line that continues to shuffle personnel in different situations. James Laurinaitis is another guy who will direct traffic up the middle. The linebacker out of Ohio State is also an underrated talent that makes his fair share of plays when given the opportunity. With Long, Laurinaitis, and Finnegan all on defense and each on different levels of this side of the ball, I could see St. Louis’s defensive packages and schemes to confuse Russell Wilson.
On offense, the Rams identity continues to be running back Steven Jackson. Jackson is one of the biggest and most athletic running backs the Seahawks will have to face this season. Given this I do not expect Jackson’s physicality to be a problem for our run defense. We have not given up a rushing touchdown to Jackson in St. Louis in the Pete Carroll era. This stat impresses me tremendously and this year our run defense is as strong as ever. There is a great chance that we will shut Jackson down once again in my opinion. A connection to look out for is Sam Bradford to wide receiver Danny Amendola. Amendola was Bradford’s favorite target in Bradford’s rookie season in 2010. An injury sidelined Amendola for all of 2011 but so far in 2012, the chemistry has picked up right where it left off in 2010. Expect Bradford to look in Amendola’s direction more than any other Rams receiver.
Random Thoughts: James Carpenter is back this week and will play. What an amazing comeback for a guy who tore his ACL and made a full recovery in only 10 months… Mike Carey will be the referee this week. Carey is my favorite ref and usually calls a good game. I say usually because last season he called the Seahawks game against the Browns where Carey’s crew made a couple big calls that may have altered the outcome of the game… Welcome back refs, glad to have you back… It is still a mystery what jersey the Seahawks will wear this week. My guess is white… This is the first of 5 games with a 10am pacific start. Perhaps I will make a full breakfast feast for me and my roommates. Maybe not… Our rivalry with the Rams has died off in recent years which is too bad. Still though, I always enjoy beating them… This game was our alternate choice for my annual Seahawks road trip. Given this, they will probably win. Don’t get me wrong of course I want to see the Seahawks win but it kind of sucks to think I could have been there… We need to limit our penalties. If we can limit our penalties to a range between 5 and 7, I think we will be in decent shape. NO 15-yarders though please!… Ron Pitts and Mike Martz are the play-by-play/commentary team for FOX this week for the Seahawks game. This will be the first week I listen to television commentary during the game. With Martz doing the commentary, I expect it to be a love fest for the Rams, as Martz won a championship as the Rams offensive coordinator in 1999 and took them to the Super Bowl as a head coach in 2001.
Prediction: The Seahawks defense is way too strong of a group and will pummel down on Bradford throughout the entire game. Russell Wilson will not have spectacular numbers but I see him throwing for at least 225 yards and a touchdown. Steven Jackson will be held to 40 yards or less by the Seahawks run defense. The Seahawks break away from the Rams in the second half, and head back to Seattle with a 3-1 record.
Seahawks 27, Rams 14
Look for my review post on Monday afternoon. Enjoy the game everybody. Go Hawks!