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NFL Preview - Seattle (2-1) at St. Louis (1-2)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - Oh yeah, the Seattle Seahawks won a game last week.

But missing amid the officiating controversy is how well they've actually been playing, which doesn't bode well for a St. Louis Rams team coming off its worst offensive output of the season.

Seattle, which goes for a fourth straight defeat of the Rams on Sunday, has toppled NFC powerhouses Dallas and Green Bay in the last two weeks - the latest coming on Golden Tate's alleged 24-yard touchdown catch from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson as time expired.

The NFL issued a statement saying Tate should have been whistled for offensive interference for pushing Sam Shields before wrestling with Green Bay's M.D. Jennings for the ball, but that there wasn't indisputable evidence to reverse Tate's clinching score.

"They called it and the league backed it up and game over. We win," coach Pete Carroll said.

The Seahawks last opened 3-1 in 2007 and haven't played as well defensively in at least that long. They've given up a league-low 13 points per game and are fifth league-wide with 10 sacks.

Eight were against Green Bay, including four from NFC defensive player of the week Chris Clemons and two each from Bruce Irvin and Brandon Mebane.

"I don't know how (Clemons) gets four sacks in one half," Carroll said. "A tremendous job by those guys - and the two edge guys rushing, they feed off one another."

They'll be up against a battered Rams offensive line that's been different in each game and won't have center Scott Wells (broken foot) or tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) for several weeks.

Quarterback Sam Bradford was dumped six times in a 17-point loss at Chicago last week when the Rams had a season-low 160 yards.

"We're going to have another week to work together and we'll continue to do the same things that we've been doing with these guys," coach Jeff Fisher said. "You coach them up. You put them in position where you think they can be successful and then you've got to adjust."

Eighty-seven of a harried Bradford's 95 passing attempts have been shorter than 20 yards.

Wide receiver Danny Amendola could test the Seattle secondary after a quick start that's placed him second in the league with 25 receptions and tied for third with 296 yards, but the Rams could have limited options with running back Steven Jackson (groin).

He missed three quarters against the Redskins in Week 2, then had 29 yards on 11 carries last week.

"I just wish I could have been more productive and help my team win," he said.

For their ground success, Seattle has turned to Marshawn Lynch, whose 72 carries are second in the league and whose 305 yards are best in the conference. He's helped the transition of rookie QB Wilson, who has the fewest passing attempts (75) and passing yards (383) in the league.

Lynch ran for 203 yards and two scores in Seattle's two 2011 defeats of the Rams. The Seahawks have lost just one of their last seven visits to St. Louis.

"When (Lynch) does go down, he's getting tackled, he's not getting hit," Fisher said. "That implies that he's either, one, delivering the blow or, two, he's got great vision."

The Seahawks lead the all-time series vs. the Rams 17-10 and have taken 13 of the last 14 contests between the two clubs.

WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson aims for his third consecutive win and has three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.8 passer rating in his past two games. Running back Marshawn Lynch leads the NFC with 305 rush yards and has 85 or more yards in 11 of his past 12 games. Since November 2011, Lynch leads the NFL with 1,246 yards and aims for his third in a row against the Rams with a rushing TD. Running back/kick returner Leon Washington is tied for first in the league with a 32.5-yard kickoff return average and tied for fourth in the NFC with a 10.5-yard punt return average. Fullback Michael Robinson scored on a blocked punt return in his last meeting with the Rams, and wide receiver Golden Tate had a career-high two TD receptions against the Packers last week. Also, wideout Doug Baldwin had a 29-yard TD catch in his last game against St. Louis. For the Rams on defense, end Chris Long had two sacks last week and has 12 sacks in his past 13 games. He also had a sack in his last home game against the Seahawks. In 15 games at home, he has 13.5 sacks. End Robert Quinn has a sack in four of his past six games at home. Linebacker James Laurinaitis is the only player in the conference with eight or more sacks and five or more interceptions since 2009. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan has at least a pick in each of first three games with the Rams and aims for a fourth straight.

WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL

Quarterback Sam Bradford is third in the NFC with a 111.1 passer rating on third downs, completing 17 of 23 (73.9 pct.) for 182 yards with a TD. Running back Steven Jackson had 123 scrimmage yards (63 rush, 60 rec.) in his last meeting with the Seahawks and has 12 career games with both 60 ore more rush yards and 60 or more receiving yards. Since 2006, his average of 112.9 scrimmage yards per game (10,044 yards, 89 games) is the league's best with a minimum of 60 games. Rookie running back Daryl Richardson is fifth among rookies with 119 rushing yards. Wideout Danny Amendola is second in the NFL with 25 receptions and tied for third with 296 receiving yards. Fellow receiver Brandon Gibson aims for a third game out of four with a TD catch. Creating mayhem up front, the Seahawks had eight sacks in the first half last week against Green Bay, including a career-high four by end Chris Clemons. He aims for a fifth game in a row against St. Louis with at least a half sack. In his last four games with the Rams, he has 6.5 sacks and had three in his last game at St. Louis. Rookie end Bruce Irvin had two sacks last week against the Packers and leads all rookies with 2.5 sacks. Also, tackle Brandon Mebane had a career-best two sacks in Week 3.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The Seahawks have indeed fared well through three weeks - whether the win over Green Bay was truly legitimate or not. That said, Wilson is still drastically unproven, and, beyond Lynch, the offensive weaponry is low-caliber compared to much of the league. Lucky for them, the Rams are being held together with spit and barbed wire on the offensive line, which is the last thing needed against a mayhem-making defensive front. If Bradford can stay vertical for a majority of the time he may make some things happen, but the odds are - this week at least - he won't be standing enough.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 17, Rams 14

09/27 12:50:52 ET


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