Seattle Seahawks (6-1) at St. Louis Rams (3-4)
Monday night on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden
Seattle brings their Legion of Doom defense to the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams have taken a back page to residents of the Gateway City thanks to the Cardinals playing in the World Series and the Missouri Tigers football team ascending into college football’s top ten. With the chronically inaccurate Kellen Clemens (51% career completion rate) taking over for Sam Bradford (torn left ACL), to say the Rams have a challenge on their hands is an understatement of monumental proportions.
St. Louis improved their offense somewhat when they benched Daryl Richardson for the more reliable Zac Stacy at running back three weeks ago; Stacy has ran for 210 yards on 49 carries in his first three starts. The problem is that if they commit to the run they could end up with a lot of third-and-longs and three-and-outs against a stout Seattle defense that is allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and 91.6 rushing yards per game.
Seattle has had success leaning heavily on RB Marshawn Lynch to control the tempo. Lynch ranks second in the NFL in both rushing yards (578) and attempts (138), and should feast on a second-rate Rams defense that is allowing 126.4 yards rushing per game (30th), 4.2 yards per carry (22nd), 40.9% third downs to be converted (24th) and 26.3 points per game (22nd).
That’s not to say that everything is rosy for the Seahawks. With starting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini sidelined, protection has been an issue. QB Russell Wilson has been forced to scramble quite often. Wilson has been sacked 20 times, and many of his 58 runs have been scrambles where the pass protection broke down. Replacement tackles Paul McQuistan (normally a guard) and 7th-round rookie Michael Bowie will have their hands full against St. Louis defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, especially on pass plays. Wilson fumbled three times last week, and has now put the ball on the turf eight times this year. The Seahawks would be wise to just run the ball all night in order to try and avoid a possible turnover that could give the Rams some life, even if it means they have to punt repeatedly.
Although this is certainly not their most difficult test, with a victory Seattle should quiet their critics who claim that they are a different team on the road. The Seahawks have won three of their four road games this season and have now won six of their last eight games away from CenturyLink Field. In a nutshell tonight’s game is between a club with a really good defense and a team with a really bad defense, no running game, and a career backup at quarterback that has not won as a starter since 2009. Seattle is far too talented for a mediocre Rams team, and that is before taking into consideration that Sam Bradford is out and that Kellen Clemens will be under center for St. Louis. Despite all their injuries, the Seahawks should win this game easily.
Pick • Seahawks 27, Rams 10
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