This is not a ‘win and your in’ sort of game…although, lets be honest, it feels like it doesn’t it, 12th Man? We have been so conditioned this season to have things go our way that it feels like the elements are conspiring against us over the last three games. If we take a step back and look at it from a normal fan’s perspective it simply appears as a regular football season, with highs and lows. But this isn’t any normal season, this is our season. So how do we find ourselves entering week 17 in an almost ‘must win’ situation? The two word answer is offensive inconsistency. There is no doubt that we have talent on the offensive side of the ball, but not knowing what offensive unit you are going to see on the field from week to week makes it as scary as a roller coaster ride.
Russell Wilson had his worst game as a professional in two seasons. I understand that everybody is allowed to have a bad game…just not with home field advantage/first round bye on the line and definitely not at the CLink. He consistently made poor decisions and his targeting system was not calibrated to Wilson’s normal standards. I take some solace in that he was at the VMAC at 4:45am the next day reviewing game films, trying to figure out what went wrong. He is a true student of the game and just like any student that gets a second chance to retake a test that they did poorly on, I expect him to come out much differently in the next game. Because of the person Russell is, setbacks don’t damage his psyche, it just makes him better. But it doesn’t get any easier as Tate and Kearse are both nursing injuries and Harvin won’t play. Couple this with the fact that our running game has been poor, by Seahawk standards, over the last three games.
So this is where most of the concern should be directed. The Seahawks just can’t seem to get Marshawn Lynch off of the line. There have been no holes in the gaps for Lynch to plow through, which means he is not reaching the secondary defense which is where full beast-mode is unleashed. I would love to see him run outside the tackles a bit more or look for holes on the edge, it seems to me as I watch the games that there are more opportunities at these spots. Also a few runs by Wilson is always warranted in order to force the defense to watch him and not just focus on Lynch in obvious run situations. It seems that Wilson has been very hesitant to run the ball. I remember against the Cardinals Wilson had a clear 3rd down conversion if he just ran it a few yards but instead threw an incomplete pass. I am sure he saw that on the game film.
Our defense has played lights out lately, especially against the pass. Our secondary continues to be the Super Glue that holds this team together. Even when we can’t put points on the board we are usually only one offensive play away from tying the game because we just don’t give up much offensively to the other team. We get Walter Thurmond III back this week, while K.J. Wright is out for several more weeks to come. In all honesty I would do a chess-swap, Thurmond for Harvin (no-brainer) or Rice. Thurmond comes back to a very talented and deep secondary, one that proved Byron Maxwell can hang with the big boys. Does it seem like we have totally forgotten that a huge component of the Legion of Boom has been suspended and we haven’t missed a beat?
We face a very tough St Louis Rams team, and even though they enter the game 7-8, their record is not reflective of how tough they play Seattle. We can expect a very hard fought game on both sides of the ball with a first round-bye/home field advantage on one side of the ball and the reaping of league-wide respect on the other side. Jeff Fisher, a fantastic coach, will have his team ready to play and he will have them believing that they can beat this team. He will also draw upon the blueprints of Arizona last week, especially now that the mystique of the home field advantage has been tarnished in Seattle.
So how does this game differ from their previous meeting in October?
Apart from being eliminated from the playoffs this time around St. Louis will also be missing a few players. The Rams will be without a huge component of their offensive line in Jake Long (left tackle), he being placed on IR with a torn ACL/MCL. Tavon Austin, Daryl Richardson and Chris Long did not practice on Wednesday and are all listed as ‘questionable’ at this point in the week. Jake Long will leave a massive hole that our defensive line can exploit, pressuring Kellen Clemens. Tavon Austin would be a blow to this team seeing that he has figured how to get to the end zone recently. And missing Chris Long would be a belated Christmas present to Seattle seeing how he tormented Wilson the last time these two players met.
Zac Stacy is the only offensive weapon that worries me in the slightest. The concern is that the Rams will pound the ball with Stacy and wear down our front line which does have a propensity to give up a few long runs during the course of a game. Clemens is prone to giving up a few turnovers; 7 interceptions, 4 fumbles in 9 games in which he has seen action. Even if Clemens does have time the Ram’s wide receivers don’t have much to offer in the way of explosiveness and none would be considered true WR1. With our lockdown corners I don’t anticipate a big game by any one of their wide receivers.
Defensively St Louis features Robert Quinn at defensive end. He brings his league leading 18 total sacks to Seattle; 5 in the last two games and 3 against Seattle the last time they met. Chris Long also terrorized Seattle last time, hopefully a healthy offensive line can neutralize him if he plays. The Rams secondary doesn’t instill fear and Seattle’s wide receivers should be able to find some separation and the opportunities for big plays. Greg Zuerlein has only missed one field goal all season but all of them except for one has been inside the 50 yard line. So effective, yes, but not proven at distance.
We can afford to be magnanimous to the Seahawks after last weeks game if they come out quash the Rams. I am not going to go into panic mode, however I reserve my right to do that if Seattle loses on Sunday. But in full disclosure I fully expect Seattle to dominate this game and in so doing put an emphatic stamp on the regular season. A stamp that says “Go Hawks!”