One more week and it's all over. The Rams will be flying back to St. Louis, and the Seahawks will be heading to the playoffs. It would be great if the Rams were playing for a playoff spot, but giving Jeff Fisher and this young team a winning record will have to do until next year.
Here are the key things to watch for the finale.
1. The 12 man
The majority of people reading this watched the Seahawks manhandle the San Francisco 49ers. A big reason for that was because of the crowd.
Their 12th man is as loud as any college stadium and I can vouch for that after attending the 2010 finale. (I even got booed on the train for having a Rams hoodie.) The stadium was built so that sound from the crowd would flow to the field, and it does.
Like I was saying before I got sidetracked, the 49ers couldn't get anything going on offense in the beginning because of the noise. If the Rams want to win, they will have to stay out of 3rd and long situations, and build up a lead. It might be impossible to comeback in a stadium this loud.
2. Limit the big plays by Russell Wilson
"He's too small to be a starter in the NFL...", that's what was said about Wilson when he was drafted. Now he's the media child that ESPN wish they had in Tim Tebow. He's a quarterback that players can get behind, and you can't count the Seahawks out while they are playing. After the Bears game, the Seahawks smartly took the training wheels off Wilson. He just needs one touchdown to tie Peyton Manning single season rookie record with 26 touchdown passes, and he's only thrown two interceptions in the past seven games.
The Rams have played well against athletic quarterbacks this season. The defense allows the quarterbacks to move around in the pocket, while they take away their passing options down the field. I don't think much will change this week. James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar will most likely spy the QB at times as they do when playing mobile QB's this season.
3. Don't turn the ball over.
The Seahawks not only have a top 5 defense (ranked number 4), they also only allow 15 points a game, and they also love creating turnovers. Going into this game, the Seahawks have a +12 turnover ratio and have 17 interceptions led by star corner Richard Sherman who has 7 interceptions, and have 20 forced fumbles, with 13 recoveries.
The Rams don't turn the ball over much. Steven Jackson hasn't fumbled this year on 246 carries. Sam Bradford most likely will turn the ball over at least once, especially with the crowd noise and a great defense. As long as he doesn't throw an interception close to the Rams red zone and doesn't throw it at the wrong time, the team should be okay.
4.The Rams need to limit the Skittle monster
Marshawn Lynch is a monster. This season the monster has 1,490 yards, 11 touchdowns on 297 carries. That is pretty damn good. This month Lynch averaged 6.7 yards a carry with 6 touchdowns (4 games).
The Seahawks have a good run blocking line, but Lynch makes things happen after the line blocks. He get's a solid amount of yards after contact, and he is faster than you would think.
The Rams can't let Lynch break big runs like Adrian Peterson did. James L, has played better against the run as the season has progressed , but Michael Brockers will also be a name to watch. Brockers has really progressed as the season went along. He's the third highest player on the Rams with a grade of 7.2 and rotational defensive lineman William Hayes is just above him. Dunbar, Eugene Sims, according to PFF, are the Rams best overall players on defense. Safety Quintin Mikell, is the Rams best run defender... Go figure.
5. How well the Rams offensive line blocks the Seahawks pass rush
The Rams offensive line biggest worries are Chris Clemons, followed by Bruce Irvin. Chris Clemons is having a good season with 11 sacks, while rookie first round defensive end Bruce Irvin has 8 sacks.
Rodger Saffold has been good this season in pass blocking; only allowing 2 sacks, 4 QB hits and 9 hurries, Barry Richardson is the weak link, allowing 7 sacks, 11 QB hits and 23 hurries. With the crowd roaring, these two players won't be able to hear the snap counts, or audibles, clearly. This match up will determine if Bradford get's time to throw down the field.