As always when you play the Seahawks, it all starts with slowing down Lynch first and worrying about the rest later. As Lynch goes, so go the Seahawks. In five games this season, Seattle is 3-0 when Lynch gains at least 100 yards from scrimmage and 0-2 when he doesn't. That is not a coincidence. There is also a direct correlation to time of possession involving the run game and whether the Seahawks win or lose. In their two losses, opponents have had the ball for an average of 39 minutes and 57 seconds.
In eight games against the Rams, Lynch has rushed for 758 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 4.26 yards per carry. Those aren't terrible numbers for the Rams, but Lynch has had 97 or more rushing yards in four of the past five meetings with the Rams. St. Louis showed signs of life defending the run against San Francisco's power rushing offense last week, and will need to duplicate that effort against Seattle.
Even better, the Rams could find a way to slow down Lynch like they did in their 2013 meeting in St. Louis when he had just eight carries for 23 yards.
Laurinaitis and Co. were more aggressive against the 49ers, and the Rams willingly sold out to stop the run in that game. Expect more of the same this week, but an even more difficult challenge against a Seattle run game that is looking to get back to basics after last week's loss.
Rams wide receivers vs. Seahawks cornerbacks not named Richard Sherman
The Seahawks are banged up in the secondary, and cornerback Byron Maxwell's status for this week remains unresolved because of a calf injury. Fellow cornerback Tharold Simon could get back in the mix as he works back from a knee surgery. Either way, the Seahawks' pass defense hasn't been what we've come to expect from them in recent seasons. Sherman is still one of the top cornerbacks in the league, but the lack of a consistent pass rush has allowed teams to have success throwing against Seattle.
Through five games, the Seahawks rank 19th in passing yards allowed per game (252.5) and 24th in opponent QBR (70). The Rams have had more success throwing the ball than many thought, though quarterback Austin Davis' QBR has dropped in each of his successive starts. Receiver Brian Quick was kept in check last week by San Francisco and faces a tough task if Sherman lines up opposite him Sunday. But if that's the case, it should create opportunities for players like Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin to do some damage. It's also worth keeping an eye on tight end Jared Cook, who could get some favorable matchups as Seattle shuffles its lineup at linebacker because of injuries.
When asked this week about rookie tackle Britt, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said he believes Britt will become a superstar one day, noting Britt's work ethic and understanding of the game. Pressed into action pretty much right away, Britt has been a solid performer for Seattle. According to Pro Football Focus, he has allowed one sack and eight quarterback hurries but has offered positive production in the run game.
Hayes has been tasked with being the primary replacement for injured starter Chris Long. After knocking off some rust in the first four weeks, Hayes had his best game of the season last week against San Francisco. He didn't get home for any sacks (like the rest of his teammates) but he managed a quarterback hit, six quarterback hurries and was stout in the run game.
The Rams will take pass-rush production from anyone on their defensive line, and they have had that against Seattle in the past four meetings. Hayes would seem best positioned to finally get the pass rush on track while Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald garner most of the attention from opposing blocking schemes. This should be a physical matchup within a physical game, but could be one that has a major impact on the outcome.