SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (0-0) at ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-0)
Sunday, 10 a.m., Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis
TV: Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
The series: The Seahawks lead it 21-12, but have lost two of their last three and their last five games in St. Louis. Seattle’s last trip there started with the stunning trade of Percy Harvin and ended with 28-26 loss.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Win, lose or Drew: This game, and many early this season, may be decided by how effective Drew Nowak can be at center. Max Unger’s replacement was a practice-squad guard and college defensive tackle before this. Now he’s the anchor and signal caller to a line that has two others in new spots as of three weeks ago: Justin Britt at LG and Garry Gilliam at RT. They are facing perhaps the most athletic and disruptive defensive line they’ll see all season. Quarterback Russell Wilson is taking the lead on protection calls just before the snap to help Nowak. The less help he needs the more the offense can feature Marshawn Lynch plus debuting Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett.
Wake up earlier. Then follow No. 29: The last time the Seahawks were in St. Louis it was 21-3 Rams almost as quickly as you can say "Gateway Arch." This is another morning start in Seattle’s body clocks, in front of another tiny crowd inside a dungeon-like dome. "We gotta find a generator," nose tackle Brandon Mebane said. They have one in the return of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas from shoulder surgery to play his first game since February’s Super Bowl.
Be more special: On their last game day in St. Louis special-teams ace Derrick Coleman broke his foot in pregame warmups. That left an already makeshift special-teams unit wondering around the dome. The Rams used an almost unheard-of fake punt return for a touchdown then clinched their upset win by completing a fake-punt pass deep in its own end late in the game. Coleman is healthy now, and special-teams coach Brian Schneider says this his "most complete" unit he’s had in six seasons with Seattle.
The pick: Seahawks, 23-17. The offensive line may indeed struggle. The defense will likely indeed miss Kam Chancellor in the middle. But Marshawn Lynch plows, Russell Wilson escapes and Seattle’s talent trumps circumstance.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
29 Earl Thomas FS 5-10 202 sixth
He’s back for his first game since shoulder surgery, and he says with no restrictions
37 Dion Bailey SS 6-0 211 second
Last year’s practice-squad rookie knows Rams are going to target him—and he says, Bring it on.
79 Garry Gilliam RT 6-5 306 second
Former college TE debuts against best DL he’ll see this season. Move your feet!
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
94 Robert Quinn DE 6-4 264 fifth
Eight sacks in eight career games against Seattle. Russell Okung and Gilliam’s challenge
5 Nick Foles QB 6-6 243 fourth
Rams traded former top overall pick Sam Bradford to give Foles their passing show. Debuts here.
89 Jared Cook TE 6-5 254 seventh
Career-high 52 grabs last year. When Rams target Bailey it will likely be with Cook down middle.