For the second week in a row Seattle is facing a winless team that they statistically dominate. In fact, the similarities between the Saints and the Rams are--as Bart might say--"numerous in their amount". Both are teams that had some hope of contention entering the season, both have been chopped down because injury and disappointing performance from the QB, both have a considerably better run defense than pass defense and both will be starting their overhyped, second string running back. The Seahawks took a crap on our hopes last week, perhaps they can do something less scatological this week.
Wildcard (Weakness V. Weakness)
Kelly Jennings' Refrigerator Sold by Warlords for M-16s: Kelly Herndon didn't do much well, but he did stuff the run. In 2006, with Herndon playing right and Marcus Trufant playing left, Seattle had the 2nd best DVOA for runs around right end and the 13th best DVOA on runs around left end. This year Tru has moved to his more natural position, playing right, and his DVOA has followed him. Seattle is 11th on runs around right end. Unfortunately, Starvin' Marvin knows every cleat pattern in the NFL. Seattle is 25th on runs around left end. What's lucky is that Saint Louis is 28th at running around left end, they only run around left end on 4% of all plays and Brian Leonard is a north and south rusher--so that's not likely to change. Still, when you really suck at something, opponents find a way to exploit it. I would not at all be surprised to see an end around by Torry Holt or Dante Hall (contingent on them playing.) Maybe even a power sweep to Leonard--basically anything to isolate Starvin' Marvin against a nourished NFL player.
Mismatches Saint Louis
Another week, another team that should be able to convert third and short against Seattle with impunity: The Rams are the 10th ranked offense at converting short yardage. The Micro Machines are 21st at preventing such runs.
They got us going both ways: Thanks in large part to Adam Carriker, the Rams are also good at preventing success in power situations. Thanks in large part to a broken foot, Shaun Alexander is good at tackling himself. The Rams are ranked eighth at preventing Power Success, Seattle 22nd at converting short yardage. Seriously, Alexander runs like someone taped down the dive button--WOOPS!
Gingivitis: Don't blame Plack, but Seattle has gone from good to awful punting the ball. Given time, I think Plack still has the elite young punter potential he showed last season. Seattle recorded 8.6 points above average punting last season, this seeaon, -5.3. Saint Louis is 2.8 points above average returning punts.
DJ Hackett V. Fakhir Brown: The Rams are the penultimate suck when it comes to defending opposing #2 wide receivers. Hackett had the second ranked DVOA in 2006. If Hackett is healthy, he should abuse Brown.
Seattle Pass Rush: Two of Seattle's three losses have come against two of the top three best pass blocking teams in the NFL. Arizona and New Orleans rank second and third in Adjusted Sack Rank respectively. Proving the truism that Seattle's defense lives and dies by the pass rush. It certainly doesn't help that Rocky Bernard was hurt. Brandon Mebane gets his official welcome to the NFL facing Andy McCollum. McCollum is a center by trade and a 14 year vet. It doesn't get much easier than this, big guy. This time when you sack the quarterback do you think you can save us the curtsy? That was neither the most manly nor dignified celebration I've ever seen by a defensive lineman.
When you're playing against an 0-6 team that's been outscored more than they've scored...: I'd overload the site if I detailed every mismatch Seattle has against the Rams. Here is a list of three essential categories Seattle is 10+ positions better than Saint Louis:
Hawks Pass Offense/Rams Pass Defense (8/27); Hawks Pass Defense/Rams Pass Offense (15/29); Hawks Rush Defense/Ram Rush Offense (12/23).
As always, all stats courtesy the essential Football Outsiders.