By Jeff Gordon

The Seattle Seahawks had an opportunity to ease into the playoffs with the top NFC seed. They had a chance to rest starters Sunday against the Rams.

But they somehow lost at home to Arizona in Week 16, despite intercepting Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer four times. With the San Francisco ***** just a step behind them in the NFC West, they must play to win against the Rams.

The Seahawks will redouble their efforts to improve offensively this week. They suffered a complete breakdown against the Gridbirds on their own field.

Here are some of those telling statistics:

The Seahawks exited with three-and-out series on seven of their 14 possessions. They failed to convert all nine of their third-down plays after the first quarter.
They built just four drives longer than nine yards. Overall, they converted just 2 of 13 third-down plays against Arizona and just 5 of 26 during their past two games.
They mustered just 89 net yards passing. Quarterback Russell Wilson completed just 11 of 27 and earned a passer rating of 49.6.

“We were just trying to be really critical of all aspects and understand what happened,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters during his Monday briefing. “We didn’t convert on third down again, which is the common theme when things don’t go right and we don’t feel good about the game.

“Our expectations are very high and our standards are very high. And we are disappointed when we don’t meet up with that, and that was an opportunity that got away that we really wanted to take home with us, and we didn’t get it done.’’

Arizona moved its safeties up tight to the line of scrimmage and dared the Seahawks to throw deep. They couldn’t.

“It was one thing or another,” Carroll said. “We missed some throws and maybe a route got adjusted a little bit more than we wanted it to and just got our timing off. We just weren’t sharp the way we would like to have been. And we really feel like a lot of that was us. We had chances. We had good one-on-one opportunities and we just didn’t get it done for a number of reasons.”

Seattle’s offensive line should be healthier for this game, but the team has already ruled receiver Percy Harvin out of the game with his lingering hip injury.

This game will still be a mammoth challenge for the Rams. To avoid another losing season and top last year’s victory total, they will have to do it the hard way – by beating a talented squad focused on delivering a huge bounce-back performance.

Should be a good game. The Rams have shown in the past they are capable of giving Stumpy fits. The Rams will be playing with house money, with the Hawks having more on the line. I am hoping our defense can add to that pressure. If anything, the Rams should be loose and let it all hang out. Too bad we won't have J. Long at left tackle, and Rodger at right guard, but we've got a shot. Go Rams!!