Cold with light rain in Seattle for the Seahawks’ home finale against St. Louis today.
Seattle made a roster move Saturday, promoting former Washington Huskies wide receiver Kasen Williams from its practice squad in time for him to make his NFL debut today. Williams becomes insurance with Doug Baldwin missing two days of practice this week with a sore hamstring. The Seahawks list Baldwin as questionable, though he practiced fully on Friday and coach Pete Carroll said the team expects the league’s hottest receiver (10 touchdowns in four games) to play.
Defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), safety Kam Chancellor (pelvis) and left tackle Russell Okung (calf) are also questionable to play. Bennett is the most likely of those three to go against the Rams; he also practiced fully on Friday.
Kelcie McCray would make his second consecutive and second career start for Chancellor. Alvin Bailey would start if Okung can’t.
Here’s my game advance focusing on St. Louis’ pass rush being Seattle’s biggest threat.
Here are the other keys to the game, and my pick:
ST. LOUIS RAMS (6-8) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-5)
Sunday, 1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field
The News Tribune game chat 12:40 p.m. http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/nfl/seattle-seahawks/seahawks-insider-blog/
TV: Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
Line: Seahawks by 13½.
The series: Seattle leads the regular-season series 21-13. The Rams beat the Seahawks in this season’s opener 34-31 in overtime Sept, 13, after tying the game with 53 seconds of regulation when fill-in safety Dion Bailey fell down trying cover St. Louis tight end Lance Kendricks on a touchdown. As tough as they’ve been on the Seahawks in St. Louis, the Rams have lost 10 consecutive games at Seattle. Their last win at CenturyLink Field was Jan. 8, 2005, 27-20 in an NFC wild-card game.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Prove it: The Seahawks’ offensive line got ransacked by the Rams in the first meeting. St. Louis blitzed from everywhere, sacked Russell Wilson six times and stopped Marshawn Lynch on fourth and 1 in overtime to win it. That was when Seattle had Drew Nowak making his first career start at center, also-undrafted Garry Gilliam making his first-ever start at right tackle and Justin Britt debuting at left guard. That line has since switched out Nowak with Patrick Lewis – and completely transformed into an effective front wall. We’ll see in this one has far it has come.
Stop Gurley: The Rams have re-dedicated their offense to rookie RB Todd Gurley, who already has 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns, since Rod Boras replaced Frank Cignetti as offensive coordinator three games ago. Boras has had Gurley run 16 and 21 times in the last two weeks, as St. Louis has scored 21 and 31 points. In the last two games before the Rams fired Cignetti, Gurley ran nine and nine times as St. Louis scored 10 points total at Cincinnati and against Arizona. The Seahawks know Gurley is coming right at them – and the league’s No. 3-ranked rush defense has been best this season against teams based on the run.
Sustain: Pete Carroll made it clear on Monday: This is no time for the Seahawks to rest on already having clinched a playoff berth. There’s the No. 5 seed in the NFC to clinch over the next two weeks; doing so would mean a playoff opener at the champion of the NFC East that currently lacks a team with a winning record. And these Seahawks are on their best roll since last winter’s run into the Super Bowl. Keeping that going is the key to advancing through a postseason that this time will be on the road. Seattle has one exactly one road playoff game in 32 years.
The pick: Seahawks 28-13. In yet-another rugged game with the Rams, the offense keeps rolling – though maybe not as dominantly as in the last two games. And the defense against Gurley is the difference.
54 --- Bobby Wagner, LB (6-0, 241, fourth season): When teams have run right at him this season, the All-Pro has been best. Remember Minnesota and Adrian Peterson? 18 yards
89 --- Doug Baldwin, WR (5-10, 189, fifth season): Two more touchdowns in this one would give him sole possession of the NFL record of five in a row with two receiving TDs
65 --- Patrick Lewis, C (6-1, 311, third season): This time, he’s making the protection calls against all the Rams’ swarming blitzes.
30 — Todd Gurley, RB (6-1, 227, rookie season): Likely rookie of the year is going to be running right at the core of the Seahawks’ defense
99 — Aaron Donald, DT (6-1, 285, second season): Leads NFL DT’s with 11 sacks. Four in three games vs. Seattle. He sacked Russell Wilson twice in September meeting.
11- Tavon Austin, WR (5-8, 176, third season): Rams always find ways to get the ball to him on splash plays against SEA: end-arounds, fly sweeps, bubble screens.