Key Matchups: Seattle Seahawks vs St Louis Rams


After three consecutive losses, including last weeks’ collapse again San Francisco, hopes of the St Louis Rams making a first play-off appearance in a decade are fading fast. Unfortunately for the Rams, the punishing schedule does not get any easier in week seven as the team plays host to reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Here RamblinFan makes its weekly selection of three individual battles that St Louis needs to win to give the team a chance of picking up an unlikely victory and salvaging their season.


With the somewhat surprising trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets on Friday, we can expect the balance of the Seattle offence to shift more towards the running game, spearheaded by Marshawn Lynch. Comfortably on course for a 4th consecutive 1000-yard season and with three rushing touchdowns already in 2014, Lynch is reportedly unhappy with the Harvin trade though ironically stands to be one of the team’s greatest beneficiaries in terms of the number of carries he receives. Despite holding Adrian Peterson (75) LeSean McCoy (81) and Frank Gore (38) all to sub-100 yard rushing games, the St Louis Rams still rank only 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game and form part of a five-way tie for 13th with four rushing touchdowns conceded. For all the preseason hype, the Rams front four (obviously minus Chris Long) has not been anything like as dominant as fans would have hoped. Despite the general disappointment, once highlight has been rookie first round draft pick, Aaron Donald. Graded by Pro Football Focus as +7.2 against the run (the highest Ram by some margin and third overall in the NFL) Donald has been a monster up front for St Louis. If Marshawn Lynch is to see more carries then Donald will need to be at the top of his game to contain him. If Lynch can be held then with a major downfield threat in Percy Harvin no longer a factor, the Rams have a hope of seriously restricting the Seahawks scoring opportunities.


The suggestions amongst fans and journalists have been varied, ranging through the absence of partner Chris Long, a cynical lack of effort since the contract extension, missed holding penalties by officials or extra focus and double-teaming from opposing offensive linemen. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that Rams star defensive end Robert Quinn has yet to register a sack in the first five games of the season. As fearsome as the Seattle offence undoubtedly is, they will be disappointed to have allowed Russell Wilson to be sacked 11 times already, tied with Washington for only 14th fewest in the league. Having reportedly sustained a shoulder injury in week three according to ESPN and currently graded -2.3 overall on the season by Pro Football Focus, Okung has not had a great start to 2014. If Robert Quinn can get by Okung consistently and apply pressure to Wilson it could be instrumental in restricting Seattle’s scoring.


One of the few real bright spots against the 49ers for the St Louis Rams was the role played by this year’s number two overall draft pick, Greg Robinson. Having only just reached double digits in total number of snaps prior to last week, Robinson was on the field for every one of the 76 offensive plays the Rams were involved in against San Francisco. Grading out nicely at +1.5 according to Pro Football Focus, and (as predicted pre-draft) looking particularly strong in run blocking, Robinson’s first start represented a sign of the hope for the future if indeed the 2014 season is to be another failure for St Louis. Against the Seahawks the Rams will need to re-energise the running game, particularly if Jake Long continues to struggle in pass protection and the likes of Richard Sherman restrict Austin Davis’ options through the air. While Rams fans would certainly love to see Sherman’s mouth closed by a 150-yard multi-touchdown performance from Brian Quick, realistically the Rams are going to have to run the ball well to have much chance of sustaining drives. Opposite Robinson will be Seattle’s defensive tackle, Brandon Mebane. Graded slightly negative overall but +1.2 against the run by Pro Football Focus, Mebane will be looking to stop Stacy, Cunningham and Mason in their tracks. It is a big ask for the Rams rookie against 8-year veteran Mebane but Robinson simply must make full use of his 332lbs, create holes to keep the running game healthy and prevent quarterback Austin Davis from facing too many third-and-long situations.