This has to be my most favorite fall weekend there is (besides Thanksgiving, of course). Not only do the Rams start the season this week against the Seahawks (a win would come in handy especially against a division rival), but it is one of the few games I get to watch in HD (I live in Washington State, so Seahawks games are all I can catch besides the nationally televised games, which normally do not feature the Rams).
With that in mind, I'm anxious to see just how prepared and motivated this team will play against the Seahawks. Last year, I watched them for about one quarter before their play hurt my eyes so badly I had to turn the TV off and I am hoping that this is not a repeat. Here are five players that are key to a Rams victory:
Marc Bulger: Pretty self evident here- when your fighting for your job, you probably want to perform well. If Bulger can't perform, The Seahawks defensive front 7 (perhaps 8) should have no problem containing Steven Jackson to an average day.
Laurent Robinson: O.K., O.K., I sort of picked him because he is on my fantasy team, but also because I just do not trust the Seahawks pass defense. FootballOutsiders.com had them ranked 30th last year in Pass Defense (by DVOA) and their variance was ranked 7th (week to week they had a 4.3% Variance in performance), which isn't exactly a good thing when you perform poorly. With Donnie Avery coming back, I expect most eyes to be on him- which is exactly why you should hope Robinson can fly under the radar and perform, because you shouldn't expect much out of the other few receivers the Rams have.
James Hall: With Carriker gone (and most likely out the door) I would expect to see a few extra plays featuring Hall at DT (or just him at DE) where he worked a bit during the preseason and did a good job. The Rams seem to have some decent prospects for the future, but our Defensive Line is suspect without the most veteran players on the team. Plus their is nothing better then seeing Matt Hasslebeck lying on the ground after a sack. It's just a heartwarming feeling.
Jonathan Wade: Bartell is the best we have, there is no doubt about that. But after the Housh, the Seahawks have some good depth at reciever (when they aren't injured). Deion Branch and Nate Burleson aren't exactly slouches, and with Matt Hassleback back from injuries as well, you can bet they are going to have an improved passing game. If our young cornerbacks make us want Tye Hill back, it's going to be a long day.
Steve Spagnuolo: This is his first real game as a Head Coach. He didn't exactly get an all-star team to work with, so it's going to be interesting to see how he makes adjustments and comes up with plays/snap judgements that will work against this Seahawks team. It's also going to be interesting to see how his style of coaching has affected these young Rams.