Sept. 9, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice (18) drops the ball after being tackled in by an Arizona Cardinal defender in the first quarter against Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
Every game is important but for me this game is especially critical. Divisional wins are always valuable, and for the Seahawks proving they can win outside of the friendly confines of the Clink is always a challenge. This won’t be easy. The Rams are a better team than they are given credit for and the Seahawks offense is sputtering right now and will need to improve to score consistently against what is a fairly solid defense. There’s a big difference between 3-1 and 2-2 so let’s take a look at the matchups that will give the Seahawks a chance to sit 2 games above .500 at the quarter mark of the season.
Matchup #1: Marcus Trufant/Richard Sherman vs. Danny Amendola
Amendola has been extraordinarily productive through the first three weeks of the season with 25 catches and 296 yards. Amendola won’t beat you deep but he will get open and make all the catches underneath. If the Seahawks leave Trufant to cover Amendola in the slot they could be inviting Bradford to nickel and dime them all day with short throws to his favorite receiver. If they have Sherman shadow Amendola they stand a better chance but I can also see the small, quick, shifty receiver being the sort of player Sherman might have trouble with. Amendola is a mortal lock to catch 5+ balls but if he can be largely contained the Rams lack another consistent threat catching the ball.
Matchup #2: Chris Clemons vs. Ty Nsekhe
If you have not heard of Ty Nsekhe that is more than understandable. The Ram’s third string tackle is so obscure I couldn’t even find a Wikipedia page for him. All I can tell you about Nsekhe is that he is a 27 year old rookie out of Texas State and a very big man at 6-8 325 lbs. Nsekhe is pressed into duty due to knee injuries to both Roger Saffold and former Seahawk Wayne Hunter. I do not envy his position. Last week Clemons put on a pass rushing clinic the likes of which I’ve never seen. It’s not fair to expect an encore but I do think Clemons in an excellent position to succeed. I’m sure Nsekhe will be getting help all day but I would be very surprised if Clemons failed to put a few hits on Sam Bradford today.
Matchup #3: Sidney Rice vs. Cortland Finnegan
The Seahawks passing game needs to get going this week if they want to win on the road. When you are struggling you look to your best players to be your best players. Rice is the Seahawks best receiver in theory but he sure hasn’t played like it yet this year. Seahawks receivers, including Rice, have struggled to get separation but Rice needs to find a way to get open even if it’s as simple as using his size advantage. Finnegan, like him or hate him, is an effective corner and presents a difficult challenge for Rice. Finnegan is a dirty player and if Rice can keep his cool that can probably be exploited to the tune of a penalty or two but Rice really needs to catch 4+ balls in this game to reestablish himself as a factor in this offense. Seattle’s offense isn’t scaring anyone right now but Rice has the potential to add an important element if he can make his presence felt this week.
I think this game will be very telling in showing exactly where the Seahawks are at this point in the season. I expect an ugly low scoring game but if the Seahawks are feeling like blowing out the Rams I really wouldn’t mind. The Rams are a real challenge for the first time for a couple of years but an challenge the Seahawks need to be able to overcome if they want to compete with Arizona and San Francisco.