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Up next: St. Louis Rams
A look at the St. Louis Rams, the Seahawks’ Week 17 opponent:
When: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 7-8 after Sunday’s 23-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams’ fourth win in their past six games
Playoff implications: The Rams were eliminated from the playoffs after their Dec. 8 loss to the Cardinals in Arizona; the Seahawks will clinch the NFC West title, a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory
Where they rank: No. 26 on offense (16th rushing, 27th passing); No. 17 on defense (7th passing, 20th passing)
TV: FOX (Q13), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jennifer Hale
Series: Seahawks lead 18-11, including a 14-9 victory in St. Louis in Week 8 and wins in 15 of the past 17 meetings
Unsung hero: Zac Stacy. During the Rams’ first four games, the rookie running back had one touch – a carry for 4 yards. Entering Sunday’s game, he needs 42 yards to join Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983) and Jerome Bettis (1,429 in 1993) as the only rookies in Rams’ history to rush for 1,000 yards. The Seahawks know all about this guy, because Stacy had 134 yards in their “Monday Night Football” matchup in St. Louis. Stacy also has seven rushing touchdowns and another receiving.
On the spot: Rodger Saffold. When LT Jake Long went out on the Rams’ third offensive play with torn knee ligaments, Safford moved from right guard to replace him – and was replaced at right guard by Shelley Smith. So Saffold will be protecting Kellen Clemens’ blind side on Sunday, not an easy thing to do for even the most seasoned tackle in the noise factory that is CenturyLink Field and against a Seahawks’ multifaceted pass rush that includes DEs Cliff Avril (eight sacks) and Chris Clemons (4.5) and DTs Michael Bennett (7.5) and Clinton McDonald (4.5). The O-line that will start against the Seahawks also includes three players who began the season as backups – RT Joe Barksdale, C Tim Barnes and Smith.
Numbers to know: 43.8, Johnny Hekker’s net punting average which leads the league. … 2.8, average yards allowed per carry by the Rams defense over the past six games, when they’ve yielded 408 rushing yards on 145 carries. … 8-8, since posting that record in 2006, the Rams have gone 3-13, 2-14, 1-15, 7-9, 2-14 and 7-8. … 144, LB Alec Ogletree’s tackles to lead the team; 10 more than Laurinaitis, who has led the team the past four seasons. … 101, points scored by the Rams in the second quarter, their most productive quarter. … 57.1, Kellen Clemens’ completion percentage since stepping in after Sam Bradford was lost for the season with a knee injury. … 4, the number of receivers who lead the Rams in touchdown catches, and the number of touchdown they have – TE Jared Cook, rookie WR Tavon Austin, WR Austin Pettis Pettis and TE Lance Kendricks.
Familiar faces: Rookie WR/PR Justin Veltung was with the Seahawks in training camp. He returned punts against the Buccaneers because Austin was out with an ankle injury. Backup OT Mike Person also was with the Seahawks in training camp as well as this season.
The last word: “This game will still be a mammoth challenge for the Rams. To avoid another losing season and top last year’s victory total, they will have to do it the hard way – by beating a talented squad focused on delivering a huge bounce-back performance.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Jeff Gordon Read