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Four matchups to watch: Seahawks at Rams

Posted Oct 27, 2013

The Seahawks will be looking to finish the first half of the season at 7-1 as they travel to St. Louis to play the NFC West rival Rams on “Monday Night Football.”

A look at the Seahawks’ Week 8 game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, including four matchups that could impact the outcome:

When: Monday, 5:40 p.m. PT, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis

Records: Seahawks 6-1 and first in the NFC West after last week’s 34-22 victory over the Cardinals in Arizona; Rams 3-4 and tied for third in the NFC West with the Cardinals after last week’s 30-15 loss to the Panthers in Carolina

TV: ESPN and KONG 6/16, with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters

Radio: 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller

Rest of the West: 49ers (5-2) vs. Jaguars in London; Cardinals (3-4) vs. Falcons in Atlanta

Matchup microscope

Rams MLB James Laurinaitis vs. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch: The Seahawks’ Beast Mode back ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards (578) and already has scored seven touchdowns. But Lynch has yet to have one of those beastly games that make the fans, as well as his opponents, shake their heads. He still has a league-high 17 100-yard rushing performances since the start of the 2011 season, but only one this season. That should change on Monday night. The Rams have allowed three of the Top 7 rushing performances in the league – 175 yards to the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray; 153 to the 49ers’ Frank Gore; and 141 to the Texans’ Arian Foster. Lynch has more rushing yards this season than each of those backs, not to mention three consecutive 100-yard games against the Rams. Containing Lynch will be a full-unit task for the Rams, but it will start with Laurinaitis. Since entering the league in 2009, he is one of three linebackers with at least nine sacks (9.5) and eight interceptions (eight). But the key stat in his latest matchup with Lynch is Laurinaitis’ team-leading 55 sacks.

One to watch

Special teams: The Rams got the Seahawks in a big way in St. Louis last season, scoring their only touchdown on a 2-yard pass from holder/punter Johnny Hekker to since-departed Danny Amendola on a fake field goal. Oh, and Greg Zuerlein also kicked field goals from 60, 58 and 48 yards in the Rams’ 19-13 victory. So, the Seahawks owe them at least one. The Seahawks special-teams units have had their moments during the team’s 6-1 start – mostly good, but also a couple of costly foibles. This would be a good time to get even, and even ahead.

Fun to watch

The Seahawks’ secondary vs. Rams QB Kellen Clemens: The “Legion of Boom” is fun to watch. Period. These guys are on their game, and then some. And in this game, the cornerback duo of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, with Walter Thurmond as the nickel back; and the safety tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor will be going against a passer who made his last NFL start in 2011. Not to mention a QB who will take deep shots to try and take advantage of the speed the Rams’ wide-outs possess. But it will take more than just throwing deep to get the best of the Boom. Since 2011, Sherman has more interceptions (15) than anyone in the league, including three this season. Thomas, meanwhile, shares the NFL lead with four interceptions and leads the league’s No. 2-ranked defense with 47 tackles. In fact, Thomas is the only player in league with at least 40 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

One tough task

Seahawks OTs Paul McQuistan and Michael Bowie vs. Rams DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn: McQuistan has moved from left guard to replace injured Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung the past five games. Bowie, a rookie, has started the past four games on the right side because Breno Giacomini is out with a knee injury. And containing pressure off the edges has been an issue for the offense, and especially Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ QB has been sacked 12 times in the past four games after getting sacked more than twice just once in the first three games. Quinn leads the NFC with seven sacks, while Long has only 2.5 this season but collected 11.5 last season. The Seahawks cannot allow them to become forceful factors in the game, as was the case against the Cardinals when Wilson fumbled three times while being sacked and lost two of them. The best way to do that is the stay out of obvious passing situations. And the best way to do that? See Matchup Microscope, and feed the Beast.

Worth noting

The Seahawks have the best winning percentage (.692, 18-8) in the history of “Monday Night Football” … The Rams are hosting their first “Monday Night Football” game since Dec. 11, 2006. … The Seahawks lead the series 18-11, but the Rams have won two of the past three games played at the Edward Jones Dome. …  Wilson has a five-game winning streak against NFC West opponents, when he has completed 62 percent of his passes (63 of 101) for 946 yards with 10 TD passes and three interceptions for a 113.7 passer rating. … The Seahawks have 19 takeaways to share the NFL lead, are tied for second in the league in turnover differential (plus-7) and have forced at least two turnovers in each of their seven games. … WR Tavon Austin leads the Rams, and all NFL rookies, with 29 receptions. But he’s averaging 6.8 yards per catch. … Hekker is third in the NFL in net punting average (43.1).

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks