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October 14, 2014 at 4:25 PM

First Look: St. Louis Rams

davisrams

Here’s our First Look at Seattle’s upcoming opponent:

Seahawks opponent: St. Louis

Game time: 10 a.m., Edward Jones Dome.

TV: FOX

Coach: Jeff Fisher (157-141-1 in 20 years overall, 15-21-1 in third year with Rams.

2014 record: 1-4

Last game: Lost to San Francisco, 31-17.

The series: The Seahawks lead it 20-11 and have won 16 of 18 dating to 2004. That includes the last three in a row with the last Rams’ win coming in St. Louis in 2012, 19-13. Seattle won both games last season including a 14-9 victory in St. Louis in a contest that ended with the Rams throwing an incomplete pass in the end zone on the final play.

The early line: Seahawks by 6.5.

Key players: QB Austin Davis: Davis (above in an AP photo), a former walk-on at Southern Miss, he has gone from fourth on the depth chart to the starter due to injuries to Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill. Davis appeared to be finding his way when he threw for 327 and 371 yards in back-to-back games against Dallas and Philadelphia, with three touchdowns in each. But after a fast start Monday night against the 49ers he came back to earth as the 49ers rallied for a 31-17 win. Davis finished with a 65.2 passer rating, the worst of his four starts.

DE Robert Quinn: Among other honors, Quinn was the Pro Football Writers’ of America’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 when he finished with 19 sacks and also showed improvement against the run. But like the rest of the Rams’ defense, Quinn has struggled this season and has yet to make a sack. Still, he’s often been a tough matchup for Seattle, with four sacks against the Seahawks last season, three in St. Louis.

P Johnny Hekker: The Bothell High grad has emerged as one of the best punters in the NFL being named to the Pro Bowl last season and also earning All-Pro honors after a year in which he broke the single-season record for net punting yards at 44.2 while the Rams led the league in fewest punt return yards allowed at 79, just ahead of Seattle’s 82. Hekker hasn’t been quite as dynamic this season with a net of 39.1 through five games.

St. Louis’ keys to success: After going 7-8-1 and 7-9 in Fisher’s first two years, the Rams entered the 2014 season considered by some as a darkhorse threat to make the playoffs. But the defense has faltered so far, allowing 31 or more points in four games as the Rams have started 1-4, the worst start in Fisher’s three seasons. And an offense playing with reserve Austin Davis has been unable to keep up. Still, St. Louis has shown it can be competitive, taking games against Philadelphia and Dallas, each 5-1, to the final possession. In fact, the Rams outgained each by more than 100 yards. But in each, a defensive touchdown by the opponent proved critical, the kind of mistake that has killed the Rams all season — St Louis has a minus-three turnover differential for the season, tied for 22nd worst in the NFL.

BY THE NUMBERS

1 — The number of sacks by the Rams, a team some regarded as having one of the best front fours in the NFL entering the season. It’s the fewest for any team in the NFL through five games since at least 1964, according to the NFL Network.

16 — Sacks allowed by the Rams, sixth most in the NFL this season
3 — Number of interceptions thrown by Austin Davis returned for touchdowns. No other NFL team has had more than two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

 

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