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Week 1 Preview: Seahawks at Rams

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

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin

*Keys to the game: The Rams’ defensive line has absolutely dominated the past two meetings at home, and the Seahawks enter with only two starters returning at the same position. St. Louis will key in on RB Marshawn Lynch, look to stuff the ground game and then harass QB Russell Wilson on long passing downs. The Rams have generally done a good job of hemming Wilson in the pocket the past two years, but he did bust loose in the second half of last year’s tight Rams victory to pass for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns – with most of his production coming on the move. Seattle’s offense was almost nonexistent during the preseason as the protection was shoddy and Wilson struggled with accuracy. The question is whether the o-line has finally found a mix that works and whether Wilson can use new TE Jimmy Graham to help take the teeth out of that defense.

The Rams have their own issues along the offensive line, and will start a pair of rookies along with two second-year players. The starting unit hasn’t played together in a game yet, but must cope with the Seahawks’ strong front seven that can pressure from any direction. Rookie RB Todd Gurley (knee) isn’t ready yet and Tre’ Mason is dealing with a hamstring injury but expected to play. St. Louis needs some production on early downs to set up QB Nick Foles, who can be very accurate in the short to intermediate but doesn’t want to be forcing the ball vertically against Seattle.

*Matchup to watch – Seahawks LT Russell Okung vs. Rams DE Robert Quinn: Quinn has been a dominating force in this matchup the past two seasons, recording four sacks in the two home meetings alone. Okung is a good, but not great, pass protector, but will get very little help as line coach Tom Cable tries to cope with Chris Long working against new RT Garry Gilliam and several mismatches along the interior.

*Player spotlight – SS Dion Bailey: The second-year player draws the unenviable task of replacing holdout Kam Chancellor. He’s young and athletic, but Bailey lacks the experience and certainly Chancellor’s intimidating presence over the middle.

*Fast facts: Wilson has 42 overall wins, including 36 in the regular season and six in the playoffs – all NFL records for QBs through their first three seasons. … Quinn has three consecutive seasons with 10-plus sacks.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

This physical rivalry has been dominated by defense and special teams the past two seasons, and this one isn’t likely to be any different with both teams entering with serious offensive line questions. At home and with a superior defensive front, the Rams make it near impossible for Seattle to move the ball.

*Our pick: Rams 19-13


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