Somehow the 2012 St. Louis Rams finished their season with the best divisional record in the NFC West. Despite being underdogs in most games against divisional foes, the Rams did not lose to the eventual Super Bowl runner up 49ers; went 2-0 against the hapless Cardinals; and split the season series with the surging Seahawks.
While it didn't lead to playoff paydirt, it meant great expectations moving forward for a franchise apparently on the rise. Unfortunately, those expectations have translated to only occasional flashes of improvement, mixed with a continued feeling of mediocrity. On top of that, one of the few rays of light in a season on the brink of disaster was a consistently improving Sam Bradford. Any hope of seeing if the next level could finally be reached this season was shattered when Slingin' Sammy went down with a season ending ACL injury against the Panthers.
Despite the lack of hope likely left in Rams Park and with Rams fans, Jeff Fisher won't allow his team to lie down. The Rams under Fisher always play division opponents tough, no matter how out of reach or bleak the outlook may be.
Pete Carroll's Seahawks are ready for primetime, and to prove they are, in fact, the best team in the NFL. Like the Rams, the Seahawks are tough, physical, and well coached. The big difference is simply the players. Seattle's got them. The Rams, well - they're still getting them.
While the Seahawks will look to put their signature on the stretch run of season and do what great teams do - beat the teams they're supposed to; the Rams are hoping to salvage some semblance of a season, and shine in prime time.
Here are three bold predictions for Monday night’s matchup.
1. It's time for the Austin Davis show.
Kellen Clemens has twelve NFL starts under his belt with an underwhelming track record. This will be his thirteenth - and last for the Rams. Brady Quinn is now waiting for his chance, and that instills confidence in no one. Austin Davis has more upside than any of the three currently rostered Rams QB's. He broke every important passing record Brett Favre held at Southern Miss. and has a solid grasp of the Rams playbook. He's ready, and so are Rams fans.
2. Percy Harvin will be a non-factor.
There is a ton of excitement for Harvin's hopeful return against the Rams in week eight. Seahawks fans and fantasy owners alike should temper their expectations. While Harvin is a dynamic weapon, it is obvious he is not necessary for the team's regular season success - especially against the essentially quarterback-less Rams. The Seahawks should, and likely will, use him in a very limited role if he does get on the field Monday. Make no mistake, though. Once healthy, Harvin is just another weapon that will make a very, very good team scary late in the season.
3. Expect a steady dose of Zac Stacy.
Zac Stacy is a proven NFL starting running back now. Since taking over the starting job for the Rams October 6th against the Jags, Stacy is 9th in the league in rushing among starting running backs, and 7th in yards per carry. While it may prove to be a fruitless effort against a pounding, aggressive Seahawks defense, expect Stacy to get his touches early and often to try and take pressure off of Kellen Clemens.