The Rams know the Seahawks very well, no surprise for the NFC West division foes. The Rams played the majority of the NFC playoff qualifiers but not so much on the AFC side. Those with a good memory might be able to recall, however, that the Rams actually know the Denver Broncos a bit better than you might think.
All the way back in Week 3 of the preseason, the Rams visited Denver for the exhibition regarded as the "dress rehearsal" of the preseason slate. It seems like ages ago now but that game took place on Aug. 24. The Rams lost 27-26 but what was more notable was that the Rams outscored the Broncos 20-10 in the first half when the starters were on the field.
As preseason games go, it was a fairly memorable night for a number of reasons. Linebacker Alec Ogletree flashed his enormous potential with an interception and a forced fumble he scooped up for a touchdown. Rookie punt returner Tavon Austin had an 88-yard punt return to setup a score. The Rams blocked a field goal.
More than anything, though, that game served as a sort of testing ground for the Broncos' up-tempo offense.
Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase took over that role before the season and one of the things he wanted to emphasize for Denver was dictating the game's pace. The Broncos did just that in that meeting against the Rams, running 49 offensive plays as quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 234 yards in the first half alone.
By the time the Rams returned to St. Louis, many were still gasping for air.
The Rams gave Seattle all it wanted when the teams met in St. Louis in Week 8, coming up short on a late drive in a 14-9 loss. It wasn't as close in the season's final week when the Seahawks won, 27-9.
Considering those three results -- one preseason and two regular season -- there's not a lot of conclusions we can draw as an indicator of what might happen Sunday. But there is one thing that stands above the rest: turnovers.
The Rams let the Broncos march all over them in the first half of that preseason meeting, but Denver only managed 10 points because of Ogletree's takeaways and a blocked field goal.
Seattle made a habit of creating turnovers this season, ranking first in the league in turnover differential at plus-20. The Broncos were 14th in the league in that category with 26 takeaways to match their 26 giveaways. Denver was minus-four in its three losses during the season.
Taking it a step further, Seattle was third in the league in points off turnovers with 119.
For as great as Seattle's defense is, chances are Denver is going to rack up the yards. That's not something that would preclude the Seahawks from winning if they can follow the same blueprint the Rams used in a long-forgotten first half of a third preseason game.
Some other Rams-related notes for the Super Bowl:
-- There's only one player in this game that has played for the Rams: Denver linebacker Paris Lenon. Rams fans might not remember Lenon, whose tenure with the team lasted for the bulk of the 2009 season. That year, the Rams traded linebacker Will Witherspoon in the second week, Lenon signed with the team on Sept. 16 and immediately became the starting weak side linebacker. Obviously, the Rams were awful in 2009 so it's easy to forget anything associated with that season. Lenon had 40 tackles and three forced fumbles as a Ram. With injuries all over Denver's defense, Lenon has played a little more recently but still serves as a bit player for the Broncos.
-- Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase is a rising star in the coaching business. Among his major coaching influences? Former Rams head coach Mike Martz.
-- Broncos running back Montee Ball never played for the Rams but he's a Wentzville, Mo. native. Wentzville is about 40 minutes outside of St. Louis.
-- At the beginning of the season, we were asked to make Super Bowl predictions. I was one of a pretty good number of writers here to pick Seattle over Denver in the Super Bowl. That those two teams made it despite whatever jinx I might have put on them is accomplishment enough -- but here we are. And though I think Denver absolutely has all the pieces in place to beat the Seahawks, I'm not going to change my mind now. How this game goes will depend heavily on how the game is officiated. Can Seattle's secondary get away with its usual physical approach beyond the line of scrimmage? Can Denver get away with some of the designed pick plays it likes so much? Those are factors that can alter the way the game goes. At the end of the day, no matter how great Manning and the Broncos' offense is, Denver hasn't seen a defense like Seattle's all year. The Seahawks' offense managed to score enough points to beat a dominant defense in San Francisco and a really good one in New Orleans. Denver's group doesn't compare to either of those units. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has had his struggles, but once again he is able to make the big plays when it matter most.
Seattle 24, Denver 20
-- Thanks for reading. Here's hoping for a great game and that this matchup lives up to the billing. Enjoy it, everybody.