Already guaranteed a spot in postseason play, the Seattle Seahawks should still have motivation against St. Louis in the final game of the regular season this afternoon.
Winners of four straight for the first time in five seasons, Seattle (10-5) can improve its seeding in the NFC playoffs. With a win over St. Louis and a loss by San Francisco (10-4-1) at home against Arizona, the Seahawks could claim their second NFC West title in three seasons, and the No. 3 seed in the playoffs – giving Seattle a home playoff game.
If all of that happens along with a Green Bay (11-4) loss at Minnesota, then Seattle would earn the No. 2 overall seed in the playoffs by virtue of the team’s controversial 14-12 win over the Packers earlier this season. The Seahawks would then get a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed.
Besides playoff position, with a win the Seahawks can finish undefeated at home for the first time since the franchise’s 2005 Super Bowl season, and only the third time in franchise history.
“Heck yeah, it does,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll, when asked if finishing undefeated at home matters. “To have a chance (at winning the Super Bowl) you have to dominate at home – you have to. There is no other way to get it done. Over a long haul, you have to be great at home and keep tacking on those wins.”
The Seahawks also could get some revenge against the Rams, who beat them earlier this season in St. Louis, 19-13. The Rams (7-7-1) are trying to finish above .500 for the first time since 2003, and close out an undefeated run in the NFC West (4-0-1) this season.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has been efficient down the backstretch of the season, with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions in his past seven games.
But against St. Louis in Week 4, Wilson was held without a touchdown pass and threw three interceptions.
“The goal in every season is just to progress, and continue to learn and grow as an offense,” said Wilson, when asked how much he’s grown since facing the Rams in the first matchup, Sept. 30. “And we definitely have done that tremendously throughout the whole entire season. I think the biggest thing is that it’s another opportunity for us no matter who we face.”
Seattle potentially could be facing St. Louis running back Steven Jackson for the final time in a Rams’ uniform. The 29-year-old can void the final year of a contract on Feb. 8, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.
But St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher indicated this week he would like to keep Jackson in the fold.
“It’s just been an honor for me to watch him play, because I’ve had so much respect for him over the years,” Fisher said. “We’d like for Jack (Jackson) obviously to finish his career here.”
With 990 rushing yards this season, Jackson needs only 10 yards to rush for at least 1,000 for an eighth straight season, joining Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas and LaDainian Tomlinson as the only backs in NFL history to accomplish that feat.
Jackson eclipsed 10,000 yards for his career this year.
However, the Seahawks have done a good job of bottling up Jackson; he has yet to rush for 100 yards in 16 games against Seattle.
“Steven Jackson has really been taking off,” Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “In the Tampa game I think that he really showed up (81 yards). He’s running harder, I mean he always runs hard, but it seems like he has just stepped it up the last couple of games and is running like a different person.”Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437
ST. LOUIS (7-7-1) at SEATTLE (10-5)
Kickoff: 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Ch. 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
The series: The Seahawks hold a 17-11 edge in the all-time series, including wins in 13 of the past 15 contests. Seattle also has won seven straight against St. Louis at CenturyLink Field. However, the Rams defeated the Seahawks, 19-13, on Sept. 30 in St. Louis.
What to watch: Cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) has been ruled out of today’s game. Linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring) and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow) are questionable. Rookie Jeremy Lane will get his third start at cornerback, with Brandon Browner serving the final game of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy. Quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown for 25 touchdowns this season, one away from tying Peyton Manning’s 1998 rookie record of 26. Running back Marshawn Lynch (1,490 yards rushing) needs 10 yards to become the third Seattle running back to rush for 1,500 yards in one season (Chris Warren had 1,545 in 1994, Shaun Alexander topped the mark twice – 1,696 in 2004 and 1,880 in 2005). Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who leads Seattle with 130 tackles, needs seven more to break the franchise rookie record of 136 tackles in a season set by Terry Beeson in 1977.
The pick: Seahawks, 28-20.