NFL Wire News

Chasing No. 1 seed, Seahawks expect phone booth from Rams


RENTON, Wash. — It is all there for the taking for the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday — the NFC West, home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs and for the second straight year, a clear path to the Super Bowl.

All that stands in the way are the St Louis Rams — same as a year ago.

In fact, this is the third straight year the Seahawks have played host to the Rams in the regular-season finale with at least a shot at the NFC West on the line. Last year, Seattle needed to beat the Rams to outlast the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West and home-field advantage.

They got it done with a 27-9 win.

They’ll take a similar result this season against a similar-looking Rams team that at 6-9 again comes into the game with nothing on the line.

“This is championship weekend,” coach Pete Carroll said, a comment he makes often but one that takes on added meaning this week.

What the Seahawks will also be on the lookout for are some tricks by the Rams.

Seattle outgained the Rams 463 to 272 yards in the first meeting, but lost 28-26 on Oct. 19 in St. Louis largely due to some special teams gaffes that included letting the Rams pull off a trick punt return for a 90-yard touchdown and a fake punt that turned into a pass on fourth down late in the game that allowed the Rams to run out the clock.

“We have to know the history,” Carroll said. “And we dig very deep to make sure we know all the things they’ve done in the past, going way back. Also it’s more than that. It’s the awareness that you have to have of sensing the right numbers on the field, the right looks on the field goal teams, if everyone is where they’re supposed to be, scanning the sidelines. You always have to be on alert.”

Mostly, though, the Seahawks need to play as they have the last five weeks as they have won five consecutive, all against teams that won 10 or more games last season — and two each against division rivals Arizona and San Francisco — outscoring opponents 114-33.

Seattle has been particularly stout on defense in that stretch, allowing just 193.6 yards per game, 70.8 rushing yards and making 20 sacks.

The offense has been a little more erratic but is coming off of its best game in team history in terms of yards gained with 596.

It all has Seattle in position to pull off a pretty stirring comeback, having been the No. 8 seed in the NFC playoff standings after a loss at Kansas City on Nov. 16 dropped them to 6-4, and now standing just a win away from being the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for a second straight season.

SERIES HISTORY: This will be the 33rd meeting. Seahawks lead the series 20-12 and have won the last nine meetings in Seattle. But the Rams won the most recent meeting, a 28-26 decision over the Seahawks on Oct. 19 in St. Louis.

NOTES: LT Russell Okung is optimistic he will play Sunday after missing last week’s game with a bruised lung. Okung said the injury was “tough” but that he was feeling good about being able to return against the Rams. … C Max Unger is less likely to play this week while still battling a high ankle sprain. The team is 5-0 since Unger got hurt, but the Seahawks wants to get Unger back. His perceived value around the league was evident when he was named as a first alternate to the Pro Bowl despite missing nine games this season. … WR Jermaine Kearse may have a tough time getting on the field this week after suffering what coach Pete Carroll called a “grade A” hamstring pull against the Cardinals. Kearse was injured while covering a kickoff. Rookie Kevin Norwood, who has been inactive the last two weeks, would likely be active and be called on to play more to fill in. … CB Tharold Simon may be able to play this week after suffering a shoulder injury near the end of the Arizona game. Carroll said it will be an “amazing recovery” if he makes it back. … DE Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) is “getting closer” to returning with Carroll saying they hoped to get a look at him on the field later this week. He has been out since early in the Eagles’ game with a sprained ankle. … WR Chris Matthews (hamstring) will do some work this week to so “see where he is,” Carroll said. He was hurt last week in practice and inactive against the Cardinals.

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