Picking the Rams makes good sense
By Bernie Miklasz
Of the Post-Dispatch
Friday, Jan. 07 2005

SEATTLE - Here are 10 reasons I believe the Rams will defeat Seattle in today's
NFC playoff game:

1. The Rams defense has improved. Seattle's defense has gotten worse.

2. The Rams already have established their ability to beat the Seahawks this
season. With the Rams, you sense confidence. With the Seahawks, you sense
doubt.

3. The Rams have been awful on the road this season ... but the No. 1 road
highlight was their October win in Seattle, when the Rams came back from 17
points down in the fourth quarter.

4. Rams coach Mike Martz seems relaxed, locked-in, focused. That
bodes well for his team. Martz has so many weapons to use against the Seahawks,
passing and rushing. If Martz finds his play-calling groove, the Rams will pile
up the yards.

5. Seattle coach Mike Holmgren faces more pressure than Martz. His
team finished first in the NFC West; the Rams finished second. The Seahawks are
at home. Martz has gotten the best of Holmgren in past matchups, and Holmgren
may need to win this game to save his job.

6. The deep ball has returned to the Rams' offense. Quarterback Marc
Bulger
is sharper than he has been all season. The Seahawks are short on
quality defensive backs when they have to use a nickel or dime package. And
while Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck has been efficient in recent games,
the Seahawks haven't been going deep. The Rams' wide receivers are vastly
superior to Seattle's WRs.

7. The Rams' defense will struggle to contain Seattle RB
Shaun
Alexander
. But the Rams have two quality backs in
Steven
Jackson
and Marshall Faulk, and Seattle's defense also has
been soft against the run. Alexander has averaged 4.8 yards a carry this
season. Jackson averages 5.0 yards.

8. The Rams' offensive line has stepped up to play well.

9. Yes, the Rams' special teams are bad. But Seattle's are also shaky.

10. The worst is behind the Rams. Getting into the playoffs with an 8-8 record
means they're playing with house money. They have nothing to lose. They can let
it rip.

Minus a bunch of giveaways on offense, it should be the Rams' day.


As others see us

One of Martz's most persistent critics is Washington Post columnist
Michael Wilbon, who often takes shots at Martz on the ESPN show,
"Pardon the Interruption." This week in a chat on the Washington Post Web site,
Wilbon was asked why he was so hard on a coach who has led the Rams to the
playoffs four times in his five seasons.

Wilbon's response: "I'm down on Martz because he's insane. He said over the
weekend - presuming I heard the guys on TV doing the game correctly - that Marc
Bulger is better than Kurt Warner ever was. See, that's just plain
stupid. You can boost your own guy without tearing down a guy who took you TO
YOUR ONLY SUPER BOWL! Please, Warner was the MVP. He was the first guy not
named Marino to throw more than 40 touchdown passes. Wasn't he the
MVP twice? Martz is a jerk for saying that and he should apologize. I like
Bulger. The guy had a great game with the season on the line Sunday. But Martz
is a nut and he sticks his foot in his mouth all the time. I'm not down on the
Rams, who have been injured much of the year and who showed heart the last two
weeks. I'm just tired of Martz ... as are so many of his peers and players in
the NFL."

Free Mike Martz.

Former Rams great Eric Dickerson was saluted by Rams executives
John Shaw, Jay Zygmunt and Bob Wallace and
other dignitaries last Saturday night in a private dinner for 100 at the Top of
the Met room at Kemoll's restaurant. ... Retired Rams linebacker
Mike
Jones
has expressed interest in becoming a member of
Ron
Zook's
coaching staff at Illinois. ...