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Seahawks face rebuilding Rams in NFC West showdown
Posted By Erik Olsoy On Nov 18 2011 @ 9:42 am In Seattle Seahawks | No Comments
When the St. Louis Rams travelled to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in Week 17 of last season, they were defeated, surrendering the NFC West Division Championship to Seattle in the process. This week’s matchup is nearly as intriguing as last year’s, but for an entirely different set of reasons. Most NFL experts picked the Rams to win the NFC West this season. Unfortunately for St. Louis, the Rams lost their first six games and removed themselves completely from any playoff discussion. Like the Rams, the Seahawks have struggled to record wins this year, and this week’s game will be a good measuring stick for both teams.
The Seahawk win last week against the mighty Baltimore Ravens will give Seattle a great deal of confidence going forward. Marshawn Lynch has scored a touchdown in each of the last five games he’s played in, and had 32 carries for 109 yards against one of the league’s premier run defenses. The offensive line has been playing better as well, and the recent success the Seahawks have found on the ground is the most encouraging thing I’ve seen from them this year. Unfortunately, there is some bad news on that front. Rookie right tackle James Carpenter is finished for the season after tearing his ACL. Carpenter was somewhat of a liability this year as a pass protector, but excelled as a run-blocker who played with a mean streak. He joins other rookie line starter John Moffitt on the injured reserve list, and will be greatly missed. Let’s hope we see more of THIS  (a highlight from last week) on Sunday.
St. Louis’ defense is the worst in the league at stopping the run, so I’d be surprised if we don’t see a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch again this Sunday. If Lynch is able to find success, he will create more space in the passing lanes for Tarvaris Jackson to throw the ball. Expect lots of play-action passes if Lynch gets off to a good start.
The top two Seahawk receivers, Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin suffered minor concussions last week against the Ravens. Coach Pete Carroll remains optimistic about their chances of playing against the Rams, and their presence (Rice’s in particular) on the field would be a huge boost to the Seahawk aerial assault.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks must contain St. Louis’ star running back Steven Jackson. Jackson, when healthy, is as productive as running backs come in the NFL. In his last three games, Jackson has rushed for 159 yards, 130 yards, and 128 yards. He will test the Seahawk run defense, but I think the Seahawks will plan on loading up players at the line of scrimmage to slow him down. They will force second-year Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to beat them.
Bradford has all the tools of an elite NFL quarterback: a cannon for an arm, accuracy throwing the ball, good athleticism, and a high football IQ. However, he lacks good blocking, has been nursing several injuries all season, and hasn’t had many consistent receiving targets to throw the ball to. The Rams tried to address this by trading for receiver Brandon Lloyd from Denver. In each of his 4 games with the Rams, Lloyd has either caught a touchdown or had at least 74 yards receiving. His improving chemistry with Bradford has pleased St. Louis fans, and he will be the primary target in the Rams’ passing attack.
Neither Seattle nor St. Louis have lived up to their own preseason expectations for themselves, but both have shown signs of improvement lately. I think the Seahawks will have more success on the ground than the Rams, and will have much more time of possession than St. Louis. I think Seattle wins.
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