Sep 23, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. The Bears won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
The St. Louis Rams will host the luckiest team in the NFL on Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks come to town. Not only were the Seahawks the beneficiaries of one of the worst calls in NFL history, which helped to usher out the replacement officials, but they were also practically handed their first win by the Dallas Cowboys in week 2. So far this season the Seahawks have been very lucky but the Rams have found themselves on the other end of the spectrum. Whether its the fluke injury to Brockers in the final preseason game or the thinning offensive line, the Rams haven’t seen many breaks go their way. So what will it take for the Rams to turn luck around this weekend? Lets take a look at each phase of the game and how the Rams matchup against the Seahawks.
Offense. The Rams offense struggled last weekend against the Chicago Bears. I personally said the Bears were not nearly as formidable on defense as they have been in the past but last weekend they showed they are still a top NFL defense. The Rams patchwork offensive line struggled to protect Bradford against the Bears front 7 allowing 6 sacks. The Seahawks managed to get 8 sacks on Aaron Rodgers, all of them in the first half. So you are probably thinking the Rams are in for big trouble this weekend against a fierce pass rush. While the Seahawks do have a decent pass rush they are not a dominant unit, not nearly as effective at rushing the passer as the Lions or Bears lines are. The Seahawks only managed to muster 2 sacks through the first two games against the Cardinals and the Cowboys, neither of which boasts a top tier offensive line. If you watched the game you probably noticed how the Seahawks benefited from the Packers unwillingness to change their gameplan until the second half. Rodgers held the ball entirely too long on all but a couple of those sacks and even fell down on his own on one of them. Once the Packers changed their gameplan to short passes and running the ball the Seahawks were unable to get any pressure on Rodgers. The Rams undoubtedly noticed this too even though that is pretty much their weekly gameplan with their limitations at wide receiver. The Rams offense should take a step forward if they use a gameplan designed to protect Bradford by running the ball and utilizing a lot of 3 step drops.
Defense. The Seahawks offense is pretty much built around Marshawn Lynch. I have said it before and I will say it again but Lynch is not an elite NFL back and having an offense built around his skills leaves you with a very limited offense. Lynch is an effective power back but that is about all that he is actually good at. If Brockers does manage to return to the field on Sunday he should provide a big boost and help the Rams defense continue to improve against the run after allowing only 3 yards per carry against the Bears last weekend. Much like the Rams the Seahawks don’t have any top tier wide receivers, although I would argue that Amendola is better than any of the Seattle wideouts even if he isn’t a true #1 receiver. The Rams secondary has taken a huge leap forward this season which should make life difficult on the rookie Russell Wilson. If the Rams offense can manage to get a lead by scoring touchdowns instead of field goals, and force the Seahawks to rely on the pass this could go from a slugfest to a blowout. The Seahawks offense averages 141 yards rushing per game which is good for 7th in the league, however if ranked in terms of yards per carry they are tied for 10th with the Giants, Rams and Browns. The Seahawks are the worst passing offense in the league averaging 128 yards per game which is almost 20 yards less than the 31st ranked passing offense. If the Rams defense can contain the running game they should have a very good day.
Special Teams. Each of these teams has excellent kicking games capable of flipping field position and generating points even when the offense struggles. The Seahawks seem to have the edge in the return game unless Isaiah Pead shows some of that ability he flashed during the preseason. Quite frankly the special teams is pretty much a draw between these two teams, although each of them is capable of making a big play as each of them did in week 2. In a potentially close game I would put money on Greg the Leg over Hauschka so I would say a slight advantage goes to the Rams in that respect.
Overall the St. Louis Rams should be favored in this game even though most odds makers have the Seahawks as a 3 point favorite. The Rams and Seahawks both have stingy defenses and above average specials teams, so the advantage comes from the offense. The Rams have the better quarterback, running back and probably even the better wide receivers. More importantly the Rams are going to be the home team in this game, and so far the NFC West is undefeated at home this season. If it weren’t for Charles Woodson forgetting that he plays safety these days and completely blowing the coverage on the first half touchdown, and of course the outrageous officiating during the final 7 minutes of the MNF fiasco the Seahawks would also be 1-2 this season . The St. Louis Rams will probably find themselves in another nail biter tomorrow but they should find a way to remain undefeated at home, Rams win 20-13.