NFC West: Will St. Louis Rams Rookie Sam Bradford Do the Ridiculous?

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NFC West: Will St. Louis Rams Rookie Sam Bradford Do the Ridiculous?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Dec. 26, 2010: Sam Bradford winds up in Saint Louis. In NFL history, he's a rookie QB force.

Will the Rams rookie do the ridiculous and win the NFC West Division on the road in hostile Seattle?  Or will he be intimidated and come down with a case of choke-itis?  Stay with me and I’ll tell you what I believe he’ll do in the game.

To get his squad to the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05, he’ll have to give the Rams their first road victory over Seattle since Jan. 8, 2005. 

The Rams beat them three times that season—the last time was in a Wild Card game. 

Six years later, the Rams and Seahawks are about to play another "win or go home" game. 

In NFC West division play, they sport the same records (3-2).  So this battle is a tiebreaker played out on the field.    

The game got so much buzz that Football Night in America on NBC picked it up. 

Coming off 23.7 million views for last Tuesday night’s Eagles-Vikings game, NBC is rocking the holiday football ratings and this game could break some more records.

I believe the stadium will be rocking in Seattle before the game even starts. 

Some 'Hawks fans will be jacked up on big boy coffee while watching what could be a wild game.  While they won’t be cheering for Bradford or talking nice about him, he’s a big boy in the NFL.   

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Dec. 12, 2010: Bradford dashes away from New Orleans' spicy defense. He led the Rams into hostile territory in the Big Easy.

In primetime, he’s leading the suddenly relevant St. Louis Rams against the home-standing Seattle Seahawks for the division title. 

Airing shortly after the Indianapolis-Tennessee game ends, it'll be the last piece in the playoff puzzle for the 2010-11 season. 

Analysts and fans are pumped about the NFL's newest whiz-kid quarterback. 

Rabid Rams fans from Swansea, Illinois, to Seattle foresee a return to the "greatest show on turf" glory days.  Unfolding before their very eyes is another superstar quarterback in the making—see Kurtis Eugene Warner. 

This time, it’s a rookie who's dancing in the division and starring in the show. 

The rook could show off and shine with a .500 record.  He can also finish his first year with a playoff berth for what was very recently the NFL's worst team.  With Bradford behind center, the Rams can finish 8-8 and go into the playoffs on a mini hot streak (2-0) with two solid wins to show for it.

Not too many experts on television shows predicted this. 

The San Francisco 49ers were supposed to romp in the NFC West.  Last Sunday, the young Rams knocked them off, and they could do the same against Seattle in the city known for coffee and rain.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Dec. 5, 2010: Bradford leads the Rams out of the tunnell against Arizona. He looks casual and cool in hostile environments.

Mike Singletary's parade got rained on and he was fired after the Rams ruined his Christmas in ice-cold St. Louis.

Seattle (6-9), meanwhile, was ticking their coach Pete Carroll off in balmy Tampa Bay against Raheem Morris' Bucs.  They got smashed, 38-15, but Carroll said he could possibly rally the 'Hawks and get them to feel good about getting a win at home. 

Regardless of the roller coaster ride, with a win, they can still accomplish their goals.

They'll have to go through a rising superstar in Sam Bradford.  He has a chance to reach one of his goals and become as highly regarded as some of the biggest names in quarterbacking. 

He’s already won more games than any other rookie quarterback who was drafted No. 1 overall. 

Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Troy Aikman and Drew Bledsoe were some of the quarterbacks who got drafted No. 1 overall.  Elway won four games as a rookie and Aikman was 0-11 in his rookie season. 

Bradford's started every game, yet his durability was questioned by some experts before the draft.  On top of that, by completing over 330 passes—and counting—he broke yet another NFL rookie quarterback season record.  

With him as the gunslinger, quick, short throws on timing routes kickstart Rams scoring drives.  As a former spread offense quarterback, he’s used to slinging the rock early.  To stay healthy and bamboozle the linebackers, he executes crisp play-action fakes and fly bootlegs with dynamic running back Stephen Jackson.  

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Oct. 17, 2010: Chris Long snuffs Philip Rivers in the dome in STL. Howie's son will try to white out Whitehurst.

The Rams play fast and fly around on offense, but Bradford's biggest help may be on the other side of the ball, where confusion is a key. 

Reminiscent of coordinator Lovie Smith's Super Bowl squads, the Rams execute and fly around on defense.  Like the old school Fearsome Foursome that the great Deacon Jones led with the Rams, the 2010 defensive front is also key to their scheme.

Chris Long, son of Hall of Fame defender Howie Long, leads them out of the starting blocks. In the Rams zone blitz packages, he is also capable of defending the best tight ends in the business down the seam and in the flats. 

Stout all season, the Rams defense is better than they get credit for.  They should be able to stop Charlie Whitehurst and the Seahawks running game.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo's defense specializes in strip sacks and running past offensive tackles to provide pressure on the opposition’s backfield. 

He speaks with a disguised Eastern accent, and a disguise on defense pre-snap accents his game plan.  With the young Rams attacking for him like the spicy Super Bowl champion New York Giants did, he could be voted the 2010-11 NFL Coach of the Year.  

It would be almost incredible if his team won the division away from the dome.  Against the 49ers, the dome was rocking like it was when Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf played there on Sundays. 

Elsa/Getty Images

Jimi Hendrix never played there, and he didn't get to see the show.  He sported an afro on his dome, and ironically he was born in Seattle.  If the Hall of Fame blues and rock guitarist was alive today, he’d be cheering for the Seahawks. His cheers would be in vain, though, if you believe NFL experts. 

Here is my expert prognostication on how the game will go in Hendrix's former stomping grounds.

Prediction

The Seahawks couldn’t run the ball for most of the year and now Charlie Whitehurst will call the snaps.  No disrespect, but Tampa Bay laid the blueprint for defeating the 'Hawks without Hasselbeck behind center. 

Carroll and his crew will make adjustments and the franchise has a lot of confidence when they play the Rams. 

However, Spagnuolo and his staff will design ways to harass Whitehurst and force turnovers.  The Rams also will watch Leon Washington and prevent him from returning kicks for touchdowns. 

With a game plan to win in a hostile environment, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will let Brady—sorry—Bradford pull the trigger.  The rookie is the real deal and he won’t develop choke-itis.  You may not see him even sweat. 

The Seahawks can win the division and finish 7-9—a sub-par record for a playoff team—but the Rams won't let it happen, America. 

Stephen Jackson, the receiving corps and the coaching staff will combine to give Bradford enough help to do the ridiculous.  He will end his rookie campaign in the .500 club, and the Rams will make the playoffs for the first time since 2004-5.

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