Good morning. The weather for the Seattle Seahawks regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field is expected to be cold, but dry this afternoon, so you might want to break out that winter jacket.
Here are my five keys for the Seahawks as they try to finish 8-0 at home for the first time since 2005.
Play with a purpose: Even though Seattle already has locked up a playoff berth, the Seahawks still have plenty to play for on Sunday – including better playoff seeding, an undefeated record at home and a little bit of revenge against a St. Louis team that beat them 19-13 earlier this year. And Richard Sherman still has that enormous chip on his shoulder after winning his appeal this week. Bottom line, the Seahawks should have plenty of motivation and not come out flat today.
No action for Jackson: St. Louis running back Steven Jackson is 10 yards away from 1,000, and would become the sixth running back in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in eight straight seasons, joining Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas and LaDainian Tomlinson. That’s pretty impressive, but Jackson has yet to rush for 100 yards in 16 games against the Seahawks, and the Seattle defense needs to keep it that way.
Protect Russell Wilson: The Rams do a nice job mixing complex blitzes with four-man rush to get after the passer. St. Louis is tied for third in the league with 43 sacks, and got after Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the first game. And with J.R. Sweezy still finding his way at right guard, communication will be a key up front for Seattle’s offensive line.
Watch for trick plays: St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher is known for going to his bag of tricks to create a game-changing play. The Rams successfully ran a fake field goal that changed the game against Seattle earlier this year. And you can bet he’ll have a couple gadget plays on offense, so the Seahawks have to stay disciplined.
Watch for the big play: Offensively the Rams did a nice job of creating some chunk plays against Seattle in the first contest this season. Speedster Chris Givens got upon for a 52-yard pass play on Richard Sherman, and seem ball to tight end Lance Kendricks on a seam route. The Seahawks need to guard against the deep ball today.
Here’s my game advance. The Seahawks have plenty to play for today.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune compares this year’s team to the 2005 Seahawks team that advanced to the Super Bowl. Linebacker Leroy Hill, who played on both squads, says he’ll take this year’s Seahawks.
John McGrath of The News Tribune says you’re either all in or all out when it comes to Pete Carroll.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Steelers claimed former Seahawks defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo off of waivers.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a closer look at some matchups to watch this afternoon.
Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times provides his keys to the game.
Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network gives us five key matchups to watch in tonight’s Cowboys-Redskins matchup, which a lot of you will be watching this evening.