Seattle Seahawks (6-4) at St. Louis Rams (2-8)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson
SERIES: 19th meeting. Series tied, 9-9. The Seahawks have won the past five, including a 33-6 victory on Oct. 21.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Coach Mike Holmgren has never been a big fan of the shotgun, but with the Seahawks going to such a pass-heavy attack the past two games, he is allowing QB Matt Hasselbeck to line up in the shotgun depending on what he sees coming out of the huddle. Hasselbeck has completed 87 of 131 passes for 933 yards and six TDs the past three games, and Seattle will run only enough to keep the Rams from blitzing at will. ... Along with getting the offensive line and some of their playmakers healthy, one of the keys to the Rams' two-game winning streak has been protecting the ball. They have just one turnover their past three games, and to continue that trend they need RB Steven Jackson to be effective on first and second down. If not, Seattle will blitz its linebackers and likely have success forcing QB Marc Bulger to get rid of the ball before he's ready.
FAST FACTS: Seahawks OLB Julian Peterson has 8.5 sacks in his past eight games against St. Louis. ... Rams WR Isaac Bruce needs 187 receiving yards to pass Cris Carter for fourth place in NFL history.
--OG Chris Gray returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's practice. He will play Sunday.
--OT Walter Jones did not practice Thursday because of a sore shoulder but will play Sunday.
--RB Shaun Alexander rested his sprained knee on Thursday and will not play on Sunday.
--WR D.J. Hackett did not practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday because of swelling in his left knee but is expected to play Sunday.
--DT Rocky Bernard did not practice on Thursday to rest his groin but will play Sunday.
--DB Mike Green did not practice on Thursday because of a sore knee. He is questionable for Sunday.
--LB Will Herring had limited participation in practice on Thursday because of a hamstring injury and is questionable for Sunday.
--LT Alex Barron was limited in practice Thursday because of a sore neck, but he is still expected to play Sunday against Seattle.
--DE James Hall did not practice Thursday as the team tries to manage his sore ankle. Hall will practice Friday and is expected to play Sunday, but could be limited.
--OL Brett Romberg practiced Thursday and appears to be able to play. However, coach Scott Linehan doesn't want to keep changing multiple positions on the line, so he could be active as a backup.
--DE Eric Moore is expected to play more snaps as the team limits the participation of James Hall, who has a sore ankle.
--OG Todd Steussie had his second solid day of practice Thursday and appears on target to start at right guard Sunday against Seattle.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The Seattle Seahawks have fallen into a advantageous part of their schedule, with none of their six remaining opponents currently sporting a winning record. However, they have four of their remaining games on the road, none of them a short trip.
There is this weekend's trip to St. Louis against the Rams, who are on a two-game win streak, followed by games at Philadelphia, Carolina and Atlanta, a lot of miles to log in a very short span.
"I wish the schedule had kind of flopped differently, I don't think it's real great to go on the road four of your last six, at the end of the season, but that's what it is," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We have to be able to handle it, if we're going to do anything we have to be able to handle it."
The Seahawks are currently only one game ahead of the Arizona Cardinals, who have won two in a row and have four of their remaining six games at home. The teams meet for a critical division game on Dec. 9 in Seattle.
"We have our work cut out for us," Holmgren said. "Arizona is having a good year, they're hanging in there really good. It appears that they really believe in what's happening there. So it's going to go right down to the wire, I suspect. To make sure that that happens, we have to play well on the road. How we handle our road games will determine our regular season, and any playoff hopes we might have."
The Hawks are 5-1 at Qwest Field this season but just 1-3 on the road, including 0-2 to the Eastern time zone, where they have lost to both Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Overall, they are 11-15 under Holmgren in the East. They are 5-4 in the cities they still have left on their schedule.
He might be a middle linebacker in base defenses, but Will Witherspoon is so much more than that. Witherspoon stays on the field when it is time for pass defense, when the position of "middle" linebacker disappears. In recent weeks, with defensive end Leonard Little out for the season, Witherspoon has played some snaps as rush end and been productive.
With 4.0 sacks, he has passed his career-high of 3.0, and is piling up the numbers as the team's leading tackler.
Said coach Scott Linehan of Witherspoon's ability, "There's not many things Will can't do. I haven't seen anything yet. We know he can run and cover and tackle from sideline to sideline. One of the things we've been forced to do and have done successfully since Leonard has been out is find different ways to rush and utilize his skills. You've seen in the last couple ball games now that he's been used a little bit more there. He's been able to create a pass rush from that position.
"We don't always want to do it. Certainly they can key in on that and put some added help that way, but you can slip it in here and there. Will's very effective there. The other thing he does is put pressure on the quarterback when he doesn't sack him because of his speed and his ability to turn the corner, so that's been a real bonus for us the last couple of games."
Asked why Witherspoon has been used in that role, Haslett said, "Have you see our other guys?"
Those "other" guys are James Hall, who is playing on a sore ankle, solid run defender Victor Adeyanju, and Eric Moore, who is getting a chance to play.
Haslett knows he has to pick his spots with Witherspoon.
"He's a good rush guy," Haslett said. "But you can't do that with him all the time. He's not big enough to do it all the time."