NFL Preview - St. Louis (7-7-1) at Seattle (10-5)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Playoff-bound Seattle will try to finish off a perfect
regular season at home and keep the pressure on NFC West-leading San
Francisco on Sunday.
To do that the Seahawks must defeat a St. Louis team intent on finishing above
.500 for the first time since 2003.
The Seahawks, who are 7-0 at CenturyLink Field, have already clinched a
postseason berth but there is still plenty to play for. Seattle remains in
contention for the NFC West and the Seahawks can claim the crown with a
victory over the Rams coupled with a San Francisco loss to Arizona.
Meanwhile, if Seattle wins and both the 49ers and Green Bay, which plays at
Minnesota, lose, the Seahawks will clinch the NFC West and secure a first-
"It's been coming together for us," said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.
"We're getting better and you can just feel it and see it. It's coming to life
Russell Wilson added to his resume for a possible Offensive Rookie of the Year
push last Sunday, carving up one of the league's best defenses and helping the
Seahawks clinch the playoff spot with a 42-13 drubbing of the 49ers.
Wilson was 15-of-21 for 171 yards with four touchdown passes.
"I am getting more comfortable in my reads, the offensive line is playing
great," Wilson said.
Marshawn Lynch added two first-quarter touchdowns and finished with 111 yards
on 26 carries, while Doug Baldwin had two scores among his four receptions and
Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for another touchdown.
The Rams are also coming off a win after Sam Bradford threw for 196 yards and
a pair of touchdowns in Week 16 as St. Louis topped the slumping Tampa Bay
Buccaneers, 28-13, at Raymond James Stadium.
Bradford completed 13-of-27 passes with one interception, while Lance
Kendricks had a huge day through the air, catching four passes for 119 yards
-- including an 80-yard touchdown -- for the Rams.
One week after becoming just the 27th player in NFL history to reach the
10,000 rushing yard plateau, Steven Jackson ran for 81 yards and a score on 19
carries as the Rams bounced back from a 36-22 loss to the Vikings and have won
four of their last five. Austin Pettis added a touchdown catch in the triumph.
"It's huge for us," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of his team's positive
momentum to close the season. "We could either take the approach that we have
won four of five, or we just lost to Minnesota. We're playing hard, having fun
and we got a great effort out of the defense today."
Seattle leads the all-time series 17-11 and has dominated in recent years,
winning 13 of 15. The Rams, however, got the best of the Seahawks back in St.
Louis on Sept. 30 when rookie punter Johnny Hekker connected with Danny
Amendola on a 2-yard TD pass and kicker Greg Zuerlein converted all four of
his field goal attempts.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
St. Louis missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season but seems like
it's going in the right direction under Fisher. The Rams will be shooting for
their first winning record since going 12-4 nearly a decade ago and are 4-0-1
in the division this season.
"We're going to play hard. We're going to finish up strong," said Fisher.
"This is a chance to finish out on a winning note and a chance to be
undefeated in the division. If we're able to do that, I'd say then we can jump
into the offseason with optimism for next year."
Bradford seems to be getting more and more comfortable, especially in division
play while the Rams defense has really come on, holding four of its last five
opponents to 17 points or less.
Conversely Seattle has scored 150 points over its last three games, the most
points scored by an NFL team during a three-game span since the Los Angeles
Rams rang up 163 from Oct. 22-Nov. 5, 1950.
"I can't remember a team that's averaging 50 points a game over three
consecutive weeks," said Fisher. "But you're talking about a team that's won
six out of their last seven. Their younger players are just getting better and
better. It starts with the quarterback."
That quarterback, Wilson, is just one TD pass shy of Peyton Manning's rookie
record of 26 and will be attempting to complete the Seahawks first perfect
season at home since 2005, the franchise's lone Super Bowl year.
As well as St. Louis has played in the division this season, it's still a very
limited team offensively and it's hard to imagine this being the team to
finally solve the Seahawks' dominance in the Pacific Northwest.
"Now we're there with the opportunity to still win a division championship
which would be huge for us," said Carroll. "That obviously takes a lot of work
somewhere else but we have to take care of our business first."
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 31, Rams 17
12/27 13:20:16 ET