NFL Wire News

Week 17 Preview: Rams at Seahawks

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St. Louis Rams (6-9) at Seattle Seahawks (11-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at CenturyLink Field, Seattle – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Gus Johnson, Charles Davis, Molly McGrath

*Keys to the game: The Seahawks have allowed a combined 33 points over their five-game winning streak and will clinch at least a first-round bye with a victory. But it won’t come easy against the Rams, whose defense has caused all kinds of trouble for Seattle over the past few seasons.

The Rams won the first meeting at home, 28-26, in Week 7, but it came on the strength of two trick plays on special teams and against a Seahawks defense that is now healthier and playing dominant football. St. Louis must have success running between the tackles because Seattle’s defense is extremely fast to the edges and QB Shaun Hill will face an uphill battle trying to work against the Legion of Boom on third-and-long.

St. Louis’ ability to push the game into the fourth quarter will depend on its defensive front. The Rams generally have done an excellent job of focusing on RB Marshawn Lynch and hemming Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in the pocket, where his small stature makes passing lanes difficult to find. However, they lost containment multiple times in the first meeting, with Wilson rushing for 106 yards on just seven carries. He also threw for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns for a 110.1 passer rating despite being sacked three times and hit seven. The Rams can still push the Seahawks’ offensive line around and drag this into a field position grind.

*Matchup to watch – Rams DE Robert Quinn vs. Seahawks LT Russell Okung: Quinn entered the first meeting sackless on the season, but got to Wilson for a sack and two QB hits to kick-start his stretch of 10.5 sacks over an eight-game stretch. He has dominated this matchup the past two years, and Okung is expected to return from a bruised lung that sidelined him last week.

*Player spotlight – Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner: Wagner missed the first meeting, and his return has sparked the defense’s resurgence. Extremely fast sideline to sideline, Wagner will make it difficult for RB Tre Mason to have much consistent success.

*Fast facts: Quinn has a sack in five straight games against the Seahawks, with a total of seven in those games. … Seattle has won 23 of its past 25 home games, including playoffs. One of the two losses was to Arizona last season.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Seahawks’ defense was minus two key starters in the first meeting and Seattle still nearly won despite being outplayed much of the game and giving up two trick plays on special teams. At home, Seattle’s defense again dominates.

*Our pick: Seahawks 23-13


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