Week 17 is more important for the 12-3 Seattle Seahawks than the 7-8 St. Louis Rams, but Jeff Fisher's team still has a .500 season to play for. Seattle, meanwhile, is looking to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs—even though it doesn't necessarily have to win to get that.
With a win (or a tie, or a one-point loss), the Rams would set the NFC West up to be the first division since the NFC East in 2007 to have all four teams finish the season with a positive point differential.
For that to happen, St. Louis would have to send Seattle to its first back-to-back home losses since 2011.
The Rams have won their last four out-of-division games, but, despite a 4-1-1 divisional record last season, they have not won a game in the NFC West since Week 1. Working in their favor against Seattle is the fact that they were a mere yard away from snatching a win on Monday Night Football.
That means their game plan should be more of the same.
Week 8 was far from St. Louis' best offensive output, but Zac Stacy enjoyed a career-best 134-yard rushing day, which doubled as his first career 100-yard game. The Rams gave him 26 carries that evening, a number which he has since met or exceeded four times.
In his last two games—both Rams wins—Stacy took 61 rushing attempts for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He'll get his high volume of touches as long as St. Louis doesn't fall behind big. Fisher will concurrently be getting an extended look at his offensive line sans Jake Long, in case the big man isn't healthy for the start of 2014 after tearing his ACL and MCL.
Fisher said there's a chance Harvey Dahl could return to play RG this week. Saffold will start for Long at LT as expected.— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) December 23, 2013
The Rams did a good job of playing keep-away, winning the time-of-possession battle by 16 minutes and 18 seconds, allowing seven first downs and forcing nine punts in Week 8. While the Seahawks totaled 15 rushes, Russell Wilson only threw 18 passes and was still sacked seven times.
St. Louis will be looking for a repeat of that.
Missing a starting left tackle is an unenviable position to be in as a passing game, but Kellen Clemens' stats in his first start left a lot to be desired anyway. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, averaged just 5.1 yards per attempt and threw two picks for a season-low 36.8 passer rating.
He should be better than that even without Long this time around, especially with Stedman Bailey becoming more and more involved with the game plan. The third-round rookie has seen at least four targets in each of his last four games, cashing in 40-plus-yard performances in three of the four.
Seattle is now 16-1 (including playoffs) when Russell Wilson doesn't throw an interception. The Rams need to pick him off at least once or twice to take the home crowd out of the game—even if it's just a little—and show that they're not playing for draft position.
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