NFL Preview - Seattle (6-1) at St. Louis (3-4)
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Seattle Seahawks are off to the best start in franchise history, a nice little run which has a good chance to continue on "Monday Night Football" when Pete Carroll's club visits NFC West-rival St. Louis.
The Rams figured to have a tough time matching up with the talented Seahawks under normal circumstances and will now have to do so without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in the team's 30-15 Week 7 loss at Carolina.
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma, had thrown for 1,687 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions in seven games this season.
"He was playing very, very well, not only yesterday but was just improving weekly," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "The challenge is obvious in this world when you have an impact player go down."
Veteran backup Kellen Clemens, who has 12 career NFL starts under his belt, including three for the Rams (all losses) back in 2011, will take over under center for the Rams but the franchise was reportedly considering many other options, including luring the 44-year-old Brett Favre out of retirement.
Favre called the offer flattering but prudently decided to stay on the sidelines.
"It's flattering, but you know there's no way I'm going to do that," the former three-time NFL MVP told ESPN Radio. "I had a great career. I think if anything, the last year that I played (2010 with Minnesota) was an obvious writing on the wall, vision for you if you will. It was time."
The Rams did bring in another former Southern Mississippi QB, however, inking Austin Davis, as well as journeyman Brady Quinn as insurance behind Clemens.
Before leaving with the injury against Carolina, Bradford completed 21 of his 30 pass attempts for 255 yards and a touchdown pass to Zac Stacy. Stacy, meanwhile, had four catches for 34 yards and also gained 53 yards on 17 carries for the Rams.
The Seahawks kept up their winning ways in Week 7 when Russell Wilson threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns to lead Seattle to a 34-22 victory over the Arizona Cardinals back on Oct. 17.
Wilson completed 18-of-29 passes and added 29 rushing yards on eight carries, while Marshawn Lynch racked up 91 yards and a score on 21 totes for the Seahawks, who are 6-1 to start a season for the first time.
"This was a really cool night for our football team," Carroll said. "We wanted to get on the road and get this thing done and continue to feel good about our ability to win on the road."
The road has historically been a tough place for Seattle but the club is slowly turning that around, already matching its win total away from the Pacific Northwest in 2012 (three) and creeping toward the single-season franchise record of five victories in 1984 and 2005.
The Seahawks are 14-2 against the Rams since 2005 but those two losses came over their past three trips to St. Louis, including a 19-13 setback a year ago.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Clemens has appeared in 31 NFL games and started 12, compiling a 4-8 record (0-3 with the Rams) since being taken in the second round out of the University of Oregon by the New York Jets in the 2006 draft.
"I'm definitely different," Clemens said when talking about his growth as a player. "There's a maturity and the experience of being around this league since then."
There better be because Clemens, who last started a game on Nov. 25, 2011 when Bradford suffered another knee injury, will be facing the league's best secondary, a group which fuels the Seahawks second-ranked defense that allows just 282.1 yards per game and 16.6 points per contest.
The Seattle defensive backfield is built around All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who leads the NFL with 15 interceptions since entering the league in 2011 and will be shooting for his third straight game with a pick versus the Rams, along with Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas, who has an INT in four of his last six games and is currently the only player in the NFL entering Week 8 with 40-plus tackles, four picks and two forced fumbles.
Fisher believes Clemens will be ready.
"He has a real good understanding of what we're doing," Fisher said. "He's been in the system for a long time. He was in the system at New York with (Rams offensive coordinator) Brian Schottenheimer, and he has a real good command of the offense. He's been great in the building, on the practice field with the young guys. He expects a lot from the younger players, and he'll get it from them."
Seattle's offense is no slouch either, ranking fourth in the NFL with 27.3 ppg thanks in large part to Wilson and Lynch, whose 578 rushing yards were second in the league entering the week to Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy.
The Seahawks could also get a boost from the possible return of Percy Harvin, who practiced for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in August.
The dynamic big-play threat, who was acquired from Minnesota in exchange for three draft picks, including a first-round choice in April, hasn't played since Nov. 4 of last season when he injured his ankle, ironically against Seattle.
The Seahawks can probably afford to sit Harvin for another week, though.
"It's all day-to-day," said Harvin. "I want to play as soon as possible, but we all want to be smart in this thing."
Seattle is far too talented for the Rams even with Bradford so it's almost folly to expect Clemens to hit the ground running against this Seahawks' secondary.
"Somebody's got to play. I'll go out there and do the best job I can and try to help this team win some games," Clemens said.
Clemens very well might do that but not this week, not against a Seattle team which is looking more and more like a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
"It feels like we are still growing," said Carroll. "We are still a very young team and it feels that way. We have enough firepower in a lot of areas to overcome the things that are going in the wrong direction but we are playing good, solid football."
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 30, Rams 13
10/25 11:06:44 ET