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  1. #1
    supachump is offline Registered User
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    Clayton - 1st and 10 Rams vs Squawks

    Heading into the season, those who really study the schedule knew a team from the NFC West or NFC North could rise from obscurity to become a contender in divisions dominated by the Seahawks and Bears. Easy schedules have promoted worst-to-first scenarios in the NFL for years.

    Coming off a 9-7 season, it wasn't too hard to make the Vikings a candidate. They were expected to be in the mix, particularly after getting their top choice as head coach, Brad Childress. At 3-2, Childress hasn't disappointed.

    While some bet on the Lions or Cardinals to make a charge, the smart money should have been on the Rams. In 2003 they were a 12-win team, but the past two seasons have been tumultuous. Regardless of what happened over the past few years -- including the departure of Mike Martz -- the Rams still had a good core group of offensive players, giving them a chance to be a good team.

    Sunday's game against the Seahawks will be a test to see if the Rams are actually ready to contend with the Seahawks in the NFC West. A win would put them a game-and-a-half ahead of the defending NFC champs. But a loss would hand the Seahawks firm control of the division.

    First-year coach Scott Linehan has done a nice job so far with the Rams. Offensively, the Rams are taking fewer chances. Linehan vowed to give the ball more to powerful running back Steven Jackson, who is tied with Frank Gore as the NFL's leading rushing with 465 yards. Jackson has carried the ball 22-24 times in every game this season and that consistency has helped Marc Bulger's play-action passing game.

    Bulger has thrown the ball 169 times this season without an interception and hasn't thrown a pick in 214 passes.

    Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has the Rams' defense running all over the field with an aggressive scheme that includes a lot of early-down blitzes. Though the Rams may give up a big play now and then, they have been flying to the football and wreaking havoc for opposing offenses. The Rams have forced 15 turnovers and lead the NFL in turnover differential at plus-12.

    But the Rams can't get caught up in their 4-1 start and forget that the Seahawks are still the team to beat in this division. Coming off a bye week, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren is trying to get his struggling offense healthy. Tight end Jerramy Stevens returns to the lineup after missing the first five weeks recovering from knee surgery. His presence could help Matt Hasselbeck and the struggling red zone offense.

    Shaun Alexander is still a week away from recovering from his broken foot, so expect Holmgren to stay in three- and four-receiver sets to test the Rams' banged up secondary.

    Are the Rams for real? We'll find out Sunday.

  2. #2
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    Re: Clayton - 1st and 10 Rams vs Squawks

    ...Expect Holmgren to stay in three- and four-receiver sets to test the Rams' banged up secondary. -- J. Clayton


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