By Dave Thomas

It would be easy for the Seattle Seahawks to get caught looking ahead somewhat. After sitting at 4-5 what seems like ages ago, the Seahawks have run-off five straight wins to perch themselves at 9-5 and have clinched one of the two NFC Wild Card spots. Although Seattle does not know yet who it will meet in the first round of the playoffs, the focus is on ending the season strong and not having a slip-up heading into the post-season.

Seattle looks to continue its momentum this Sunday as it plays its final home game of the regular season, an afternoon meeting with the NFC West rival St. Louis Rams. It was the first game of the season in St. Louis when the hosts went overtime to top Seattle 34-31. The loss would be the first of two for Seattle (lost the following weekend to Green Bay) before a pair of wins over Chicago and Detroit, respectively got things back on course for the back-to-back NFC champions.

Seattle Comes To Life Last Five Games

While Seattle would struggle some more over the next five games, things definitely came to life over the last five contests. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been on nothing short of a tear the last five games, while Seattle’s defense at times has resembled the feared Legion of Boom, shutting down Minnesota (seven points), Baltimore (six points) and Cleveland (13 points) in just the last three games. With St. Louis having scored 34 points the first time the two teams met, expect Seattle’s Pete Carroll to ramp-up the defensive effort in preparing for a Rams’ team that can be dangerous at times.

With one of the two wild card spots guaranteed, Seattle has several goals over the last two dates of the regular season (St. Louis at home, at Arizona on Jan. 3). Among them:

Keep Wilson Healthy Heading Into The Playoffs

While Wilson has been very mobile during his time in the NFL, Seattle’s hopes of a third straight Super Bowl appearance would be a longshot at best if the man under center went down with an injury. To date, Wilson has thrown for 3,538 yards and 29 TD’s. Wilson has also been a problem for opposing defenses once again on the ground, rushing for 502 yards and one touchdown.

Getting Running Back Marshawn Lynch Healthy Once Again

The injury-plagued season for the former Cal Bear has been frustrating for a number of people on the Seattle team, most notably Lynch. While he has rushed for 417 yards and three TD’s on the season, the year could have been so much more had Lynch escaped injuries to his calf and, more notably, his abdomen. Following abdominal surgery a few weeks back, Lynch has been on the mend. According to Carroll, it is expected that Lynch will still see action this season. Having Lynch back in the fold is even more important given that rookie running back Thomas Rawls, team leader with 830 yards rushing, is out with a season-ending ankle injury.

Maintain Defensive Intensity

The Seahawks must keep the defensive intensity at a fever-pitch if Seattle is to get on a run in the playoffs. While Minnesota is another playoff-caliber team, Seattle holding Baltimore and Cleveland to a total of 19 points these last two Sundays is not exactly the stiffest of tests. Once the playoffs role around, the challenges will definitely pick up for the Legion of Boom.

Sunday’s game with St. Louis is set for 1:25 p.m. PT with the Seahawks leading the all-time series 21-14.

Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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