What a tumultuous and lovely time Week 17 is for the NFL. There are divisional games galore, with playoff implications at the heart of seemingly every matchup. The same is true for the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday, when they host the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field. This crucial game for the Hawks begins at 4:25 ET on FOX.
Seattle struggled mightily the last time these two met on Monday Night Football. Robert Quinn and Chris Long kept Russell Wilson in the pocket and brought him down far too many times. They neutralized Marshawn Lynch and Seattle scraped by on the strength of their defense and a long touchdown pass play.
The Seahawks obviously need to play much better Sunday against the Rams than they did all those weeks ago. There’s so much riding on this game ever since Seattle choked against the Arizona Cardinals last week. During that game, Wilson performed much like he did against the Rams. He couldn’t run and he couldn’t sustain drives through the air. He needs to shake off last Sunday’s abysmal performance and play like all of the 12th man know he can.
Jermaine Kearse is questionable and Percy Harvin is out yet again, but the rest of Wilson’s targets are good to go. I imagine offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will look to get Wilson going with short, quick passes to get him into a rhythm and to nullify the Rams’ impressive pass defense spearheaded by Robert Quinn. Of course, Wilson will have a bit more time, given that his offensive line is healthy this time around, but the Rams’ front four are formidable nonetheless. Marshawn Lynch is surely not going to run over the Rams’ defense, especially given last week’s numbers against another strong run defense in Arizona, so Wilson getting into a groove early is crucial. Doug Baldwin needs to get into the game more this Sunday, as does Zach Miller. Some tight end option routes and slot receiver quick slants are sure to gain positive yardage early.
The Seahawks’ defense didn’t disappoint against Arizona last week, and they’re not going to disappoint this week, especially not with home field advantage on the line. Richard Sherman, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl, is going to lead the Legion of Boom in making life difficult for Chris Givens and Jared Cook. Kellen Clemons won’t be torching Seattle’s secondary on Sunday. The only question for this defense is whether or not they can limit Zac Stacy. Stacy burned Seattle in St. Louis in the first meeting, keeping drives alive until Seattle managed to hold the Rams to a field goal try. Seattle’s front seven has to stop Stacy, or this game could be far too close for the likes of the 12th man.
What it all comes down to, though, is Seattle’s hunger to win. Seattle has led the charge in the NFC all year, and only now does home field and the number one seed look shaky. This Sunday will prove what kind of a team Seattle is. They’ve dealt with adversity all year, with injuries and comebacks, but there’s so much more on the line this time. Does Seattle want to right the ship before the playoffs and secure home field advantage, or do they want to be the team that choked late in the season and gave San Francisco hope? I hope Pete Carroll asks that question in the locker room on Sunday.