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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

September 29, 2012 at 10:31 AM

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What to watch for: Seahawks at Rams

Seahawks Keys to Seahawks victory
Keep the pass-rush coming.
Seattle totaled two sacks over the first eight quarters it played this season. The Seahawks had eight sacks in the first two periods of its game Monday night. The Rams have allowed 12 sacks so far, tied with Cincinnati for second-most in the league. With Rams starting left tackle Rodger Saffold out and his backup Wayne Hunter questionable, defensive ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin will have great opportunities this game.

Don't get greedy.
With Seattle ranking last in the league in passing yards, the temptation is to say it's time to step on the gas pedal. But what's become clear is that Pete Carroll's priority is limiting risks on offense, and this may not be a week that Seattle needs to take many chances. Russell Wilson has completed six passes of 20 yards or more, tied for second fewest in the league. St. Louis' Sam Bradford is the only one with fewer so while it may not be exciting, the Seahawks should keep that offense dialed down until it needs to open things up.

Keep your cool.
The Seahawks have been penalized 32 times, which is the most in the NFL. The Rams are developing a reputation for pushing their opponent's buttons, and Seattle can't get into a tit-for-tat exchange in terms of shippy play. The Rams have some antagonists like cornerback Courtland Finnegan, and Seattle hasn't shown a reluctance to scuffle, but the Seahawks need to keep the flags to a minimum.

ram-mark-1-cl.gif Keys to Rams victory

Force a turnover or two.

Carroll is obsessed with avoiding turnovers. It's a big reason why Seattle has the fewest passing yards in the league. Force a turnover or two, and he's going to clamp down even tighter on that playbook. If St. Louis is going to win, the best bet is to get Carroll to shorten the leash on that offense with its rookie quarterback.

Use the pass to set up the run.
Green Bay is not a good running team. The fact the Packers ran their way back into Monday night's game in the third quarter speaks to the fact that it's best to get Seattle playing the pass before you start handing the ball off. The Packers' Cedric Benson carried 10 times in the third quarter, gaining a total of 48 yards, which is almost inexplicable when you consider that in the other three quarters combined he carried seven times and had a net loss of 3 yards on those rushes.

Pressure the passer.
The biggest surprise out of St. Louis' first three games is the lack of sacks. The Rams have four, which ranks 27th in the league, and that is a surprise considering the defensive line -- and particularly end Chris Long -- has been one of the more consistent strengths. Seattle has done a better job protecting Wilson its past two games, but those were at home. The Rams need to keep him from getting comfortable on the road.

Matchup microscope

Rams WR Danny Amendiola vs. Seahawks FS Earl Thomas
Amendiola caught 12 passes in the first half of his team's Week 2 game against Washington, and after three games he has 25 receptions, second only to Minnesota's Percy Harvin. Amendiola missed 15 games last season because of an elbow injury, which means this is the first time he'll have faced Seattle since the 2010 regular-season finale when Thomas stepped up, wanted the challenge of covering Amendiola, who finished the game with 2 catches for a total of 9 yards. Will Seattle try to use that matchup again?

Series history
The Seahawks have won 13 of the past 14 games between these two teams, though the games in St. Louis have been much closer. Of Seattle's last six victories in St. Louis, four were decided by six points or fewer. The Rams have lost their last seven games within the division.

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This is another must-win game for the Hawks. We are better than the Rams pretty much... MORE
Make that the last 8 games in the division, Danny. Rams are going down Sunday!! MORE
Clemons and Bruce were suppose to dominate the Cardinals terrible tackles too and that ... MORE

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