The Seattle Seahawks (11-4) hot off their statement win in Arizona last Sunday go home to face the St. Louis Rams (6-9) with home field advantage at stake.
While the matchup may look lopsided on paper with Seattle appearing to be the heavy favorites, St. Louis has shown their competitiveness with upsets over the Seahawks in week seven and the Denver Broncos in week 11.
The Seahawks come off a 35-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals giving them sole possession of the number one spot in the NFC West. A win against St. Louis would guarantee them the NFC West title and potentially the number one seed. A loss however and an Arizona win would move them down to a wildcard.
On the injury front for Seattle, the Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung, who missed last Sunday with a bruised lung suffered in the 17-7 victory against San Francisco in week 15, practiced this week and is expected to return against St. Louis.
Center Max Unger, who’s missed the last five games with an ankle sprain, was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice according to a report by ESPN. It is still unsure whether Unger will play Sunday but is expected to be ready for playoffs.
Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse who exited last Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury did not practice and is expected to miss this Sunday’s game as well. Rookie Paul Richardson is likely to get the start in his absence.
On the other side, according to reports, the St. Louis Rams are likely to be without starting cornerback E.J. Gaines who is listed as doubtful after suffering a concussion against the New York Giants last week.
The Seahawks come into this game with the number one ranked defense in the NFL, ranking number one in opponent passing yards, opponent rushing yards and points allowed per game. They also lead the league in total yards per game allowed giving up only 268.6 yards. To put things in perspective, behind them is Detroit at 295.9 total yards allowed per game.
Seattle’s defense has given up 33 total points in their last 5 outings, that’s an average of 6.6 points per game. If their reign of terror on defense continues it’ll be a long day for Rams quarterback Shaun Hill.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch are both coming off their best performances of the season last week. Wilson completed 20 passes for a total of 339 yards through the air, two touchdowns, no interceptions and ran for an additional 88 yards. Lynch did not start due to stomach problems instead making his first appearance in the second quarter. In his three quarters of play Lynch ran for 113 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns including a 79-yard touchdown run.
Wilson, Lynch and company will go toe-to-toe with Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn and Pro Bowl rookie tackle Aaron Donald.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas, safety Kam Chancellor and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner were also recently selected to the Pro Bowl along with Lynch. Wilson on the other hand was snubbed.
The Rams are coming off back-to-back losses against the Giants and Cardinals. After being elimanted from playoff contention several weeks ago all the Rams can hope to do is build some momentum for next season and make Seattle’s road to the Super Bowl more difficult with a major upset.
Its been a rough year for St. Louis after losing quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL in pre-season. It’s the second time in two seasons Bradford has suffered the injury.
The Rams will have to face the 12th man in arguably the most hostile environment in the NFL, Century Link Field. The Seahawks will try to clinch the number one seed for the second straight year while the Rams take on the tall task of playing the role of spoiler.