Seahawks-Rams Preview

Jim Mora makes his regular season debut as head coach of his hometown on Sunday.

St. Louis Rams (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)

Time & Place:
Sunday, September 13, 2009
1:15pm PT
Qwest Field
Seattle, WA

Regular season series: The Seahawks and Rams have faced one another 21 times, with the Seahawks holding a 12-9 edge in the regular season series. The Seahawks have won the last 8 contests, including a sweep of last year's season series by scores of 37-13 in Seattle and 23-20 in St. Louis.

Notable Newcomers

St. Louis
Steve Spagnuolo, head coach (DC, New York Giants)
Billy Bajema, TE (UFA, San Francisco)
Kyle Boller, QB (UFA, Baltimore)
Jason Brown, C (UFA, Baltimore)
James Butler, S (UFA, NY Giants)
Craig Dahl, S (UFA, NY Giants)
Samkon Gado, RB/KR (UFA, Miami)
Gary Gibson, DT (UFA, Baltimore)
Mike Karney, FB (UFA, New Orleans)
Laurent Robinson, WR (Trade, Atlanta)
Anthony Smith, S (UFA, Green Bay)
Hollis Thomas, DT (UFA, New Orleans)

Seattle
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR (UFA, Cincinnati)
Colin Cole, DT (UFA, Green Bay)
Edgerrin James, RB (UFA, Arizona)
John Owens, TE (UFA, Detroit)
Ken Lucas, CB (UFA, Carolina)

2009 Draft Class

St. Louis
Jason Smith, OT, Baylor (1st round, 2nd overall)
James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State (2nd round, 35th overall)
Bradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa (3rd round, 66th overall)
Dorell Scott, DT, Clemson (4th round, 103rd overall)
*Brooks Foster, WR, North Carolina (5th round, 160th overall)
Keith Null, QB, West Texas A&M (6th round, 196th overall)
**Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Texas (7th round, 211th overall)

Seattle
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest (1st round, 4th overall)
Max Unger, C/G, Oregon (2nd round, 49th overall)
Deon Butler, WR, Penn State (3rd round, 91st overall)
Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers (6th round, 178th overall)
***Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers (7th round, 245th overall)
Nick Reed, DE, Oregon (7th round, 247th overall)
Cameron Morrah, TE, California (7th round, 248th overall)
*-Injured reserve
**-Practice squad
***-Waived

Stats & Rankings (2008 regular season rankings)

St. Louis

Offense
Total: 27th (287.3 yards per game)
Passing: 26th (184.2 yards per game)
Rushing: 25th (103.1 yards per game)
Scoring: t-30th (14.5 points per game)

Defense
Total: 28th (371.9 yards per game)
Passing: 19th (217.2 yards per game)
Rushing: 29th (154.7 yards per game)
Scoring: 28th (29.1 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: 23rd (-5)

Seattle 

Offense
Total: 28th (274.0 yards per game)
Passing: 29th (163.6 yards per game)
Rushing: 19th (110.5 yards per game)
Scoring: 25th (18.4 points per game)

Defense
Total: 30th (378.0 yards per game)
Passing: 32nd (259.3 yards per game)
Rushing: 18th (118.7 yards per game)
Scoring: 25th (24.5 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: 25th (-7)

Injury Report

St. Louis

OUT: S Craig Dahl (hamstring), T John Greco (hand)
Questionable: QB Marc Bulger (finger), LB Larry Grant (knee)

Seattle

OUT: T Walter Jones (knee), C Chris Spencer (back)
Doubtful: DE Derek Walker (hamstring), CB Travis Fisher (hamstring)
Questionable: WR Deion Branch (hamstring), S C.J. Wallace (rib)

TV/Radio

FOX has the broadcast, with the 6th-ranked team (out of 7) of Ron Pitts (play-by-play) and former nine-time Pro Bowl safety John Lynch (commentary) in the booth. Locally the game will be shown on Q13, with 97.3 FM and 710 ESPN Seattle providing the radio broadcast, with Steve Raible on play-by-play, Warren Moon on analysis, and Jen Mueller reporting from the sidelines.

Vegas Line: Seahawks -8 ½ (o/u 41 ½)

Keys to the Game

Stop Steven Jackson – Even if Rams quarterback Marc Bulger (finger) and wide receiver Donnie Avery (foot) weren't coming off injuries, the Rams offensive gameplan was to pound opponents in the running game. They spent big money in free agency on center Jason Brown, used the second overall pick of the draft on Jason Smith, and signed Mike Karney, a true fullback they expect to pave the way for Jackson who is, quite frankly, the Rams' most dangerous weapon on offense. Between Corey Redding, Colin Cole, and Aaron Curry, the Seahawks added considerable beef to their front seven to improve the run defense. Jackson and the Rams offensive line should be a good barometer for how improved Seattle's run defense really is.

Unleash the D –Jim Mora's first real game as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, his hometown team, comes against a divisional opponent and in front of over 67,000 screaming fans at Qwest Field. What better time and place to see the attacking, aggressive defense Mora talked about during his introductory press conference in January.

Matt Hasselbeck – Hasselbeck isn't just the key to the game, he's the key to the season. Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo is a protégé of the late Jim Johnson, so he knows a thing or two blitzing. Steve Vallos will be tasked with the line calls, but if Hasselbeck can audible away from a blitz or two, and gash the Rams for some big plays, he could force the Rams out of what they want to do defensively.

Fun Fact

From the time he entered the NFL to the 9:49 mark of the 1st quarter of the Rams-Seahawks game on November 25, 2007 at the Edward Jones Dome, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger had a career passer rating of 91.3. On  a 3rd-and-7 play from the Seattle 26-yard line, Bulger suffered a concussion after being hit from behind by blitzing Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill, who came untouched from the blindside. Since that play, a span that covers 18 starts, Bulger's passer rating is 68.6.

NorthwestFootball.net Prediction

To reclaim the NFC West, the Seahawks will need to win at home, and win inside their own division. That's why today's season-opener against the Rams is not just a game they should win, it's a game they must win. Starting the season 0-1, and 0-1 inside the NFC West, would be a disastrous beginning to the season and Jim Mora coaching era. Furthermore, winning a divisional road game is not the way the Seahawks will want the Rams to begin their rebuilding process—which ran so deep it included the firing of the team photographer and janitorial staff over the off-season—under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

The edge the Seahawks have in talent, combined with playing in front of 67,000 fans at Qwest Field, will get the Mora Era off to a good start.

Pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 16


In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog and writes for FalconInsider.com on the Scout network. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so by clicking here.

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