The St. Louis Rams are likely to face a very ornery, focused Seattle Seahawks team on Sunday in an NFC West matchup in Week 7. The Seahawks opened as 7-point favorites, with the total listed at 43.5 points at most online sportsbooks.
Think Coach Pete Carroll might have his players' attention at practice this week? Seattle didn't just lose 30-23 at home to Dallas on Sunday, the Cowboys pretty much pushed around what is supposed to be the most physically dominant team in the NFL. The spread tells you it was a big upset with Seattle listed at -8 at most online sportsbooks, but if you watched the game the Cowboys were clearly the better team. Seattle's formerly No. 1 ranked run defense was gashed for 162 yards on 37 carries. The Cowboys' DeMarco Murray ran 29 times for 115 yards and a score. He tied an NFL record with his sixth straight 100-yard game to open a season. Seattle had allowed only 62.3 yards per game and just 2.6 yards per carry entering the game.
Tony Romo also was sharp against what is the NFL's best secondary, completing 21 of 32 for 250 yards, two scores and no picks. Dallas held the ball more than 15 minutes longer than Seattle did. The Seahawks managed only 206 yards of total offense. Russell Wilson was 14 of 28 for 126 yards (53 on one play in first series) with no touchdowns and an interception. It was just the second home loss of his three-year career. For some reason, Seattle got away from using Marshawn Lynch as he carried the ball only 10 times despite averaging 6.1 yards per rush. Percy Harvin had three catches and three rush attempts and finished with minus-1 yard. The only offensive touchdown came after a Cowboys muffed punt gave Seattle possession at the Dallas 14. You can forget about that talk of Wilson for NFL MVP for the time being.
After the game, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin ripped the offense, saying: "We have to quit BS-ing ourselves. We've got to be real with ourselves," Baldwin said. "When we get in the meeting room, we've got to actually pay attention to things and not blow smoke up our tails that everything's going to be all right. Things aren't going right."
Seattle's defense was historically good in 2013 but has now given up 30 points twice already in '14, both losses. It allowed 30 points once last year. In addition, Seahawks starting cornerback Byron Maxwell suffered a calf strain against Dallas, which means he's probably not going to play against St. Louis. Center Max Unger missed the Dallas game with a foot injury and is very questionable for the Rams.
The sportsbooks still like Seattle. It is a +280 favorite to win the NFC championship on most NFL odds boards and +600 second favorite behind Denver (+400) to win the Super Bowl.
Short Week for Rams
St. Louis hosted San Francisco on "Monday Night Football" so it will be a short week for the Rams. Obviously any significant injuries the team might suffer against San Francisco would affect this line, and it is why some sportsbooks don't post the opening lines on MNF teams until Tuesday morning.
The Rams entered that game with the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL but one of the worst run defenses, which would appear to be a major problem against Seattle. St. Louis also might have found its long-term answer to injured Sam Bradford in QB Austin Davis. He entered Monday having thrown for at least 327 yards and three scores in consecutive games. Remember, Kurt Warner came from obscurity to star for the Rams and win a Super Bowl. Maybe Davis can do the same -- it just won't be this season. The Rams are clearly the worst team in the NFC West. Their defense had 53 sacks in 2013, including 19 by Robert Quinn. It has one entering Monday and Quinn has been shut out.
Seattle swept the Rams, winning 14-9 in St. Louis on a Monday night and 27-9 at home in Week 17. Davis of course didn't play in either game. Lynch had 97 yards and a TD in the regular-season finale matchup but a season-low 23 yards on eight carries in the Monday game. Wilson didn't top 172 yards passing in either game but wasn't picked off and had three TD passes.
NFL Free Picks: We are taking Seattle and the 'under' for our NFL picks here, as the Seahawks haven't lost back-to-back games since Week 7-8 in 2012. They aren't about to here. Both Rams games were 'under' the total in 2013.