Despite being eliminated from playoff contention for the 11th straight season, the 6-8 St. Louis Rams still have a chance to end their season on a high note. They face two division rivals (both road games) to close the year: the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. And quarterback Case Keenum will face his toughest test yet when the Rams head to Seattle to face the Seahawks.
Last week, the Seahawks came back from an early deficit against the Cleveland Browns to win 30-13 as their winning streak increased to five games. Despite losing running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, the latter of whom is out for the year, the offense of Seattle has found multiple ways to become a legitimate threat to opponents.
But the defense, the side of the ball that the team is most identified with, is also improving week by week.
And that’s the largest threat that looms ahead for Keenum and the bottom-ranked Rams offense.
Victories over the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were nice, but nowhere near the level-of-challenge that the Seahawks possess. Though it should be noted that in week one of the season, the Rams defeated the Seahawks at home in a thrilling 34-31 overtime victory. It should also be noted the Rams have only lost one game to a divisional opponent this season (a home loss to Arizona).
Keenum has largely improved since taking over the spot of struggling quarterback Nick Foles.
In his last three starts, Keenum has completed 40 passes on 65 attempts, thrown for 494 yards, along with three touchdowns and one interception. His decent play has played a critical role of reigniting the running game led by Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin, as it makes the team no longer one-dimensional.
If the Rams win, they will be 7-8 heading to San Francisco in the season-finale, and while finishing .500 once again isn’t particularly exhilarating, it is still a better bounce back from the five-game losing streak they were on in the middle of the season.
The reason this is the biggest challenge in Keenum’s career, apart from the facts above, is that the Seahawks are second in the league in run defense. Meaning that Gurley will surely have his hands full leading the running game. Meanwhile, they’re ranked 20th in the NFL in passing defense, which gives Keenum a prime opportunity to take advantage of what’s ahead.
It should be an interesting game Sunday. And the result will either lead to another losing season for the Rams or a chance to still end the year at .500. Either way, it’s game on in Seattle come Sunday.
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI)