Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rams @ Seahawks: Pre-Game Package

We've known for weeks now that this game had potential to be the NFC West Championship game, and it looks like we won't be disappointed. If the Seahawks win they will have a 7-9 record, which would be an equal record to the Rams, but they would own the tie-breaker (which would be division record, since both teams would be 1-1 against each other in the event of a Seattle victory).

The Rams seem the have the momentum entering the game given that the Seahawks have lost seven out of their last nine games; and to make matters worse, their only two wins the past nine weeks came against the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals.

Seattle QB Charlie Whitehurst has only one start in five seasons.
Seattle does not have a clear cut starter at quarterback either. Matt Hasselbeck is questionable with a hip injury, and back-up Charlie Whitehurst has only one career start, as well as a 54.7 career quarterback rating. Also, their leading receiver Mike Williams has only touched the end-zone once this season. Even so, when the Seahawks do move the ball it's because of their air attack that ranks 18th in the NFL (one slot ahead of the Rams' 19th ranked aerial attack).

The Seattle ground game has been putrid at best. Neither Marshawn Lynch or Justin Forsett have been able to break the 500 yard barrier this season. So it's really no surprise that their rushing attack ranks dead last in the league at 32nd. So even if Seattle is capable of scoring through the air tonight, it's not like they can eat up the clock on the ground.

So far, the Rams lost their first match-ups against Arizona and San Francisco, but the coaching staff has been able to make the necessary adjustments in order to beat those teams the second time around. Since the Rams were able to beat Seattle during their first match-up, this second match-up should not be too much of an obstacle for the Rams. This could change if Seattle's notorious #12 is a factor, which is not likely, as he's been on the I.R. since week 8.

The Rams' solid run defense will be able to contain the worst rushing offense in the NFL, and the Seattle passing attack won't be a factor as long as Long and company can create pressure. If Hasselbeck is on the bench then their chances greatly increase, as Whitehurst is prone to making mistakes. But even if the veteran Hasselbeck toughs it out, the Rams will be battling a slow and injured quarterback.

On offense, the Rams have to expose the 29th ranked Seattle pass defense. Danario Alexander had a big game last week, so offensive-coordinator Pat Shurmur needs to figure out how to get him involved again. Also, tight-end Mike Hoomanawanui practiced this week, and if he plays then he'll really add some firepower to the Rams' air attack.

The Seahawks will have a hard time covering Hoomanawanui, Alexander, and Amendola; all while keeping an eye on Steven Jackson in the backfield. Shurmur needs to create some rhythm between Sam Bradford and those three receivers. He needs to incorporate the no-huddle offense to start the game, and bust out a run when Seattle isn't expecting it. What Shurmur should not do is the exact opposite- run on first and second down, and bust out a pass when Seattle isn't expecting it.

But no matter what the Rams do or don't do, it is hard to picture a scenario where St. Louis coughs up this game. The Rams should have no problem securing the division tonight.


St.Louis Rams

Sam Bradford554335335718
Steven Jackson31911963.76
Kenneth Darby3310032
Danny Amendola836808.23
Brandon Gibson5059011.82

Seattle Seahawks

Matt Hasselbeck444266300112
Charlie Whitehurst63353151
Marshawn Lynch1454983.46
Justin Forsett1154954.32
Mike Williams6273511.91
Ben Obomanu2545518.24


NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Michael HoomanawanuiTEAnkleFull Participation in PracticeQuestionable
Jerome MurphyCBFingerFull Participation in PracticeProbable


NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Brandon StokleyWRHeadDid Not Participate In PracticeQuestionable
Matt HasselbeckQBHipLimited Participation in PracticeQuestionable
Olindo MareKBackFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Lofa TatupuLBKneeFull Participation in PracticeProbable

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