Game Preview: Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams

In their second meeting of the season, the Seahawks have the chance to all but wrap up the NFC West with a win over the Rams at Qwest Field.

What: Divisional showdown
When: Sunday, November 13th, 1 p.m. (PST)
Where: Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
Weather: 50 degrees, rain showers


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Rams Key Players:

QB Marc Bulger: Bulger has been hampered by a shoulder injury and missed the Rams' past two games, both wins, in an attempt to get him well enough to finish out the season. Bulger is the fourth-rated passer in the NFC, with a 90.8 rating. He has completed 65% of his passes for 1,769 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He struggles when he has to run for his life due to poor protection and he's been sacked 20 times in only six games. Bulger is very accurate and has a good feel for the offense run by the Rams. His problems come when he tries to force things, especially in the red zone where he has thrown too many picks.

RB Steven Jackson: When Jackson gets going, the Rams are tough to defense. Jackson has really come on the past two weeks rushing for 97 and 179 yards in the two wins. He's averaging 4.8 yards per carry and is ranked ninth in the entire NFL with 659 yards. He has the speed to get to the corner and be a home-run threat, but the body and power needed to pound it between the tackles when asked. He's also an adept pass-catcher out of the backfield and is dangerous when the team runs screen-passes that allow him to get into space. At this point the Rams are ready to ride Jackson for the rest of the season if they keep winning.

WR Torry Holt: Holt, like Bulger, missed the past two games the Rams played. Holt is still on pace to catch 88 passes for over 1200 yards and eight touchdowns. He has great hands, runs precise routes and has good deep speed. He is the only real deep threat for the Rams, although with the possible return of Isaac Bruce that could change. Holt causes teams to roll their coverages to his side and if Kevin Curtis or Shaun McDonald can take advantage of single-coverage the Rams could again be dangerous down the field.

DT Jimmy Kennedy: Now in his third season in the NFL, Kennedy is finally starting to play up to the expectations his talents warranted. Kennedy is a rock in the middle, able to hold strong at the point of attack. He is also able to get good pressure from the inside when asked to rush the passer and ranks second on the team with three sacks. Kennedy still has a tendency to take plays off, but they are fewer and farther between and he seems motivated to be the best he can be.

SS Adam Archuleta: With Archuleta in the secondary, the Rams have another player who can enforce the run and make tackles, but lacks the agility and awareness to play the pass. Archuleta is second on the team with 44 tackles and he also has an interception that he took 85 yards for a touchdown. He plays like a linebacker and is an emotional leader of the stop unit, but his liabilities in coverage are something that teams tend to exploit when they have the chance.

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Key Matchups:

Seahawks LT Walter Jones vs. Rams DE Leonard Little: Little hasn't been able to really generate consistent pressure this season, mainly because there hasn't been another pass-rushing threat on the opposite side. Anthony Hargrove was supposed to replace the departed Bryce Fisher and that just hasn't materialized. Jones, on the other hand, continues to play better than any other tackle in the league. He blocks just as well for the run as he does the pass and the when the Hawks need a first down, they usually run to his side.

Seahawks LG Steve Hutchinson vs. Kennedy: Hutchinson, like Jones, is playing better than any other player at his position right now. Hutchinson and Jones form the best left side of any line in the NFL and they utterly dominate those they come up against. Kennedy is quick off the ball and tough to move when he decides he doesn't want to, but Hutchinson is super-strong and has a bit of nasty to get after guys. This one should be fun to watch.

Holt vs. Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant: Trufant appears to be rounding back into a solid cornerback after a good outing last week against the Arizona Cardinals. He made several plays while the ball was in the air, including his first interception of the season. He is very good at reading routes and hasn't made as many mistakes the past couple of weeks. Holt is the lone down-field threat for the Rams and he has excellent hands. He's finally healthy and it will be interesting to watch this battle on the outside.

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. Rams secondary: Hasselbeck is the third rated passer in the NFC and with one of his two favorite targets (Bobby Engram) back and in the fold, he was ultra-efficient versus Arizona last week. Hasselbeck doesn't have to win games for the Hawks, but he has to manage them well and he has done exactly that. The Rams secondary ranks 26th in the NFL, allowing 240.6 yards per game, and they struggle with complex passing games like Seattle's.

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News and Notes: Holt has 36 100-yard receiving games and needs one more to tie Lance Allworth and Marvin Harrison (Randy Moss has 41) for the second most in his first seven seasons; Little has 55.5 career sacks and ranks third in franchise history since the stat was recorded in 1982; Jackson ranks fifth among the running backs with 218 yards receiving and is tied for fifth with 26 receptions; Seahawks are in quest for third 7-2 start in franchise history (1999 and 1984); RB Shaun Alexander needs one touchdown to become the first player in NFL history with at least 15 touchdowns in five straight seasons; Fisher is tied for fourth in the NFL with seven sacks; WR Joe Jurevicius has a career-high five touchowns; Rams lead series 9-5.

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Injuries:

Seattle:
OUT: WR Darrell Jackson (knee); LB Jamie Sharper (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: S Michael Boulware (hamstring); T Wayne Hunter (hamstring); LB D. D. Lewis (knee); DT Marcus Tubbs (calf)


St. Louis:
QUESTIONABLE: WR Isaac Bruce (toe); G Tom Nutten (neck)
PROBABLE: WR Torry Holt (knee)


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Prediction: Seattle 27 – St. Louis 24

Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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