Keys to Seahawks victory
1. Keep Rams run game in check.
Rams running back Steven Jackson is 10 yards away from reaching 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth consecutive season. Seattle’s streak against Jackson is almost as impressive, however: The Seahawks have never allowed him to gain more than 100 yards in any of the 16 games in which Jackson has played.
2. Stop St. Louis’ pass rush.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has shown an ability to avoid opposing pass rushers that borders on comical. Last week he evaded a diving Ahmad Brooks twice on the same play. The Rams are a decidedly average defense with one exception: their pass rush. They have 46 sacks, tied for the third-most in the league. Seattle has allowed 27, tied for the eighth-fewest. The Rams have had more than two sacks in five of their last seven games while the Seahawks have allowed more than two only once in that time.
3. Pay special attention to special teams.
That was the difference in the first meeting between these teams as St. Louis kicked three field goals – two of them from more than 55 yards – and scored its only touchdown of the game on a fake field-goal attempt in which the Seahawks failed to account for all 11 Rams’ players. Seattle’s special teams has been a strength most of this season – as evidenced by Leon Washington’s Pro Bowl selection – and the Seahawks need look no further than that October loss in St. Louis to see how that can make the difference in a game.
Keys to Rams victory
1. Don’t fall behind.
Easier said than done considering the Seahawks have scored first in 12 of their 15 games this season. Not only that, but Seattle has scored on its first two possessions in each of the past three games. St. Louis is definitely not built to get into a scoring contest as the Rams are 1-6-1 when their opponent scores 20 or more points. Seattle hasn’t failed to score 20 points in a game since its 13-6 loss at San Francisco on Oct. 16.
2. Find a way to generate takeaways.
St. Louis has forced 21 turnovers this season, tied for 10th fewest in the league. But that doesn’t tell you how important that statistic has been to the Rams, who have failed to force a single turnover in six of their 19 games. St. Louis is 0-5-1 when its opponents don’t commit a turnover and 7-2 when it takes the ball away at least once. Seattle has committed a total of just three turnovers in its past five games compared to 14 takeaways in that span.
3. Stop Seattle’s run game.
That means more than just Marshawn Lynch. While Lynch has surpassed 100 yards rushing in three consecutive games, Wilson has emerged as a real running threat, too, which St. Louis must honor. In the first 11 games of the season, Wilson averaged 20.6 yards rushing, including a seven-carry, 14-yard day at St. Louis in Week 4. Over the past four games, though, Wilson averaged 51 yards rushing, but more tellingly, 7.6 yards per carry.
Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin vs. Rams CB Courtland Finnegan
Baldwin was an afterthought the first half of the season, catching 11 passes and missing two games because of injury. He has been targeted more consistently over the past two months, reminding everyone of just how it was that he led Seattle with 51 catches last season. He caught four passes last week, including two for touchdowns. Finnegan may not be the league’s best corner, but he is undoubtedly the peskiest. He’s someone who loves to mix it up and Baldwin has never been the kind of player to back down from a challenge. Expect to see these two to go head-to-head when Baldwin lines up in the slot.
The Seahawks have won 13 of the last 15 regular-season games in this series, including seven in a row in Seattle. The Rams last victory in Seattle came in the wild-card round of the playoffs after the 2004 season. These games haven’t been all that close recently with six of the past seven regular-season meetings decided by 10 points or more.