By Rich Bergeron
The 3-2 Seattle Seahawks, hoping to rebound after a tough loss to the Cowboys last week, head South this Sunday to square off against the 1-4 St. Louis Rams. Both teams come into this game needing the win badly. St. Louis needs to stop an ugly slide and get QB Austin Davis (118-185, 1,365 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs) his second career win as a starter. Seattle needs the morale boost after suffering a 30-23 loss to the surging Dallas Cowboys last week, a team that only beat St. Louis by a field goal. Seattle is also 3rd in the NFC West, behind Arizona and San Francsico.
Bet on the NFL at bet365:
- Point Spread: Seattle Seahawks -6.0 10/11, St. Louis Rams +6.0 10/11
- Money Line (to win outright): Seahawks 5/14, Rams 23/10
- Over/Under: 43.0 points 10/11
Seattle Quarterback Russell Wilson (92-139, 978 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs, 31 carries, 221 yards, 2 TDs) is still a top flight QB, but he’s just not as dynamic as he was last season. Wilson’s also losing a key receiver and return threat as Percy Harvin was traded to the New York Jets Friday for draft picks. Wilson led his team to a 27-9 win over St. Louis in their final game of the 2013 regular season, but the Rams defense kept Wilson to -1 rushing yards. Wilson typically has at least one game per season where he hustles for over 100 yards on the ground, like he did this year in week 4 against the Redskins when he scrambled for 122 yards on 11 attempts. Lately, though, Wilson is struggling to surpass a handful of rushes per game, and his passing game is ranked 31st in the league in terms of average passing yards per game (186). Marshawn Lynch’s breakout performances so far this season has his team posting a 148.9 average for rushing yards per game, good enough to put the Seahawks in second place in the league. Lynch has 6 touchdowns on the season: three in the air on 14 catches for 127 yards and three on the ground with 79 carries for 367 yards.
The Seattle defense is also not as daunting this season, and they have been especially vulnerable lately. They yielded 162 yards rushing to the Cowboys last week and gave up 30 points for the second time this year. The good news is the team rarely loses back to back games, a phenomenon that last happened in October, 2012.
St. Louis only beat Tampa Bay this season, another team having a very rough year. They do have the 7th ranked passing game in the NFL, though. Austin Davis is having a fantastic year despite his team losing four out of five games. It doesn’t help that three out of four Austin picks were returned for TDs by the other team, though.
The Rams backfield doesn’t really match-up to Seattle’s with Zac Stacy and Benjamin Cunningham combining for 95 carries and 373 yards for three scores so far on the season, something Lynch managed to do by himself with far fewer carries. The Rams rank 18th in the league in rushing, averaging just over 100 yards per game.
The key for St. Louis in this contest is the injury bug plaguing the Seahawks. Cornerback Byron Maxwell and Linebacker Bobby Wagner are not guaranteed to play in this one for the defense with Tight End Zach Miller and Center Max Unger likely out on offense.
The Rams lost three straight games to Seattle, and 16 of their last 18, but this one may actually be in reach. It would be their first home win if they can pull it off. And that’s a big IF.
Prediction: The Rams have a great day passing, but a key interception in the 4th quarter ruins Davis’ perfect day. Wilson has a great running game, chalking up over fifty yards and a touchdown to go with another 100-yard rushing day for Marshawn Lynch. Both get scores on the ground, and Wilson gets another two through the air. Davis throws a touchdown pass and gives the ball to Stacy for a rushing score, but the Rams can only manage a couple field goals on the way to dropping their fourth-straight home game 28-20.