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October 27, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Seahawks-Rams: Five things to watch


1, THE FIRST QUARTER: The Rams are double-digit underdogs and seemingly reeling with the loss of QB Sam Bradford, and the Seahawks could make this an easy day at the office if they can put the Rams away early. The first quarter has been Seattle’s lowest-scoring this season, the Seahawks outscoring foes 29-10. Seattle, though, has gotten off to good starts in its last two road games (outscoring Indianapolis and Arizona a combined 19-7). And the first quarter has been the worst for the Rams this year as they have been outscored 41-19.

2, RUNNING GAME: No statistical matchup about this game stands out as glaringly as Seattle’s run offense against St. Louis’ run defense. The Seahawks are second in the NFL in rushing offense at 154.4 and have had 135 or more in every game since being held to 70 in the opener at Carolina. The Rams, meanwhile, are 30th in the NFL defending the run, allowing 126.4 yards per game and 4.2 yards per attempt. Marshawn Lynch (above in a John Lok photo) leads the Seahawks with 578 yards on 4.2 per carry. That average is down from 5.0 a year ago. Monday night, though, might offer an opportunity for a big game.

3,PASS RUSH:  Each team went into the season with big expectations when it came to mounting a pass rush, Seattle spending heavily in free agency to improve its line and the Rams coming off a 2012 season in which they tied for the NFL lead in sacks wit4h 52. Seattle’s has so far lived up to the hype with the Seahawks recording 23 sacks through seven games, tied for fourth in the NFL. St. Louis’ numbers have dropped some — the Rams have 18, which ranks 16th. Still, St.  Louis has some formidable pass rushers, such as end Robert Quinn, who has seven (and figures to usually be matched up against Paul McQuistan). And Seattle’s biggest issue of late has been protecting quarterback Russell Wilson. The easiest way the Seahawks can make this an easy night is pressuring the heck out of Kellen Clemens, standing in for the injured Bradford at QB. And the most logical way the Rams can make it a game is harassing Wilson all over the place.

4, TURNOVERS: St. Louis ranks poorly in so many stats, it’s hard to find an area statistically that really causes a concern for the Seahawks in this game. One area where the Rams have been okay is turnovers, having gotten 12 and lost only nine — the latter tied for third-fewest in the NFC — for a differential of plus-three. Seattle remains a standout overall in turnovers at plus-seven, tied for second in the NFL, but hasn’t won the turnover battle in three games, having the same as its opponent each time.

5, FIELD GOALS GALORE: Okay, so this game may not come down to a field goal. But if it does, this one pits what have been two of the best in the NFL so far this season. Seattle’s Steven Hauschka is 16-17 this year, tied for the second-most makes in the NFL with the only miss a kick that was blocked. St. Louis’ Greg Zuerlein is 11-11 and known for his strong leg, which is helped by playing in a dome.


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