Tale Of The Tape: St. Louis Rams At Seattle Seahawks
- QuarterbackThe Rams have played some very competitive games this year, and Kellen Clemens has done a decent job of finding open receivers with his accurate short- and medium-range passes. Clemens is not going to throw the 30-yard out with a lot of velocity, nor is he going to throw the deep ball very often. Clemens has completed 57.1 percent of his passes this season.The Seahawks lost their first home game of the season and it was shocking to see them fall to the Arizona Cardinals. That kept them from clinching the NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. However, they can make up for that hiccup with a home win over the Rams. Russell Wilson’s accuracy and leadership should give the Seahawks a major advantage in this game.
- OffenseHead coach Jeff Fisher does not want Clemens to try to win this game on his own. He knows the backup quarterback needs help from the running game, and Zac Stacy has pounded out 958 yards and seven touchdowns this year. If Stacy can move the ball against the Seahawks, that could open things up in the passing game. Tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Chris Givens will be Clemens’ top targets.The Seahawks are mad at themselves for letting their Week 16 opportunity against the Cardinals slip away, so look for a concerted effort from the offense in this game. Running back Marshawn Lynch has rushed for 1,160 yards and 11 touchdowns and he will try to pound the Rams into submission. Wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate need to pick it up after a below-average game against Arizona.
- DefenseThe Rams rank 17th in total yards allowed, but they are seventh against the run. They could make life difficult for Lynch, at least for a while. Linebacker Alec Ogletree is an excellent athlete who has registered a team-high 109 tackles. Defensive end Robert Quinn is having a sensational year as he leads the league with 18.0 sacks.The Seahawks have the top-ranked defense in the league and they are also first against the pass. Pete Carroll’s defense is keyed by its excellent depth, and that allows the Seahawks to roll in fresh players throughout the game. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team in tackles with 108 stops and he may be the NFL’s most underappreciated player. Cliff Avril leads the team with 8.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Rams have been solid on special teams all year. They have been allowed just 2.9 yards per punt return, and that would be a dominant figure if it weren’t for the Seahawks’ achievement in that category. PK Greg Zuerlein has made 25-of-27 FG attempts this season.The Seahawks are serious on special teams and they don’t like to give up any yardage. Opponents are averaging 1.6 yards per punt return. PK Steven Hauschka has made 31-of-33 FG attempts, including 3-of-3 from 50 yards and beyond.
The Rams play with effort, but they are no match for a motivated Seahawks team. Carroll should have his team primed for a maximum effort in this game and it would be a shocker if the Seahawks don’t come away with an overpowering victory. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor