Christmas just passed. The NFL season is about to end as well. But there's just one more December tradition to go:
The St. Louis Rams will travel to the Northwest to face off with the Seattle Seahawks.
Even though the Rams cannot knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs, they can still affect how Seattle goes in to the postseason. If the Rams beat the Seahawks, Seattle would go in as a wild card team. So expect St. Louis to give it their all.
Players to Watch
The Seahawks' defense is ranked in the top five, both against the run (3rd, allowing 84.1 yards per game) and the pass (1st, 184.5 ypg). There is not much of a possibility for the Rams to bust things open on offense against this group.
Enter, Tavon Austin and the special teams. Austin – who was recently added as an alternate for the Pro Bowl – has had a few big punt returns this season. Austin took a punt back 78 yards for a touchdown against Washington in Week 14. In Week 15 in San Diego, Austin had another big return that was called back due to a penalty.
Tavon Austin can bust loose on any play. More times than not, it will be on a punt return. Let's hope there's no flag to call a big run back.
The rookie Pro Bowler, Aaron Donald, has done it all this year. He can rush the quarterback – his eight sacks rank fourth among defensive tackles(1st among rookies). He can stop the run – Donald has 16 tackles for a loss.
So it's perfect for Donald to be one of the key factors in how well this defense does. Case and point: the Giants game. New York made it a priority to implement blocking schemes solely drawn up to negate Aaron.
Still, planning to stop Donald only opens up things for the other first round defensive linemen the Rams have – and you simply cannot do that with this St. Louis D-line.
Over the second half of the season, Alec Ogletree has become a play-maker on this team. Per Pro Football Focus, Ogletree has only had one game (Week 14 versus the Chargers) in which he ended with a red score (a negative grade of -2.0 or lesser).
Ogletree's run defense has improved throughout the year as well. PFF has him down for a total run defense grade of ++1.3. Coaches have lauded Alec's technique refinement. It's definitely improved his ability to get off blocks and take down the ball-carrier more effectively.
Seattle boasts an exceptional running back in Marshawn Lynch. Ogletree will need his newly refined skills to try to hold him at bay.
Greg Robinson has had his ups and downs throughout the entire year. It all started with his rough transition to guard in training camp. Then with his inability to pick up the playbook enough to crack the starting lineup. Once he did get into the starting rotation, Greg was not even allowed to settle in before he was moved out to left tackle.
While Greg has shown bits and glimpses of his prowess in the running game, his pass blocking technique is still in need of work. The PFF score of -12.9 can show how raw Robinson still is.
Robinson is getting plenty of work in to improve his craft. He will have a tough task at hand versus versus Seattle's defensive end Cliff Avril. This will be a case where iron sharpens iron.
Despite playing along side a fellow Pro Bowler, Robert Quinn is still the most feared player on this Rams defense.
With Quinn's 10.5 sacks in the year, he now has had 10 or more sacks in three consecutive seasons.
Robert will make Sunday a living hell for Russell Wilson. Seattle will need to double – even triple – block Quinn to keep him away from Wilson; specially with Russell Okung coming off a bruised lung. Quinn will be licking his chops at a one-on-one with an out of breath Okung.