2014 Predictions: Seattle Seahawks

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
ESPN.com Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: Green Bay Packers

All the pregame hype will center around the so-called Inaccurate Reception, the controversial Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate two years ago that won the game over the Packers at Seattle on a Monday night. Tate has moved on to Detroit, but the Seahawks now have too many weapons for the Packers to stop, no Hail Mary required. Prediction: Win

Week 2: at San Diego Chargers

The Chargers better hope they play a lot better than they did in the preseason game at Seattle, a 41-14 victory for the Seahawks on Aug. 15. San Diego will play better, but not good enough to beat a much better team. Prediction: Win

Week 3: Denver Broncos

The Broncos and their fans got a tiny bit of meaningless Super Bowl revenge in the preseason opener with a 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys. Repeating that outcome in Seattle is not an option. Prediction: Win

Week 5: at Washington Redskins

Traveling coast to coast to play on the road for a Monday night game is a tough task against any NFL opponent, and even tougher against quarterback Robert Griffin III. But the Seahawks catch a break in this one by coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare and be fresh for the journey. Prediction: Win

Week 6: Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave Seattle a little bulletin-board material last month when he said the Seahawks were to blame for the increase in penalty flags during the preseason. There won't be near enough flags against Seattle for the Cowboys to win this one. Prediction: Win

Week 7: at St. Louis Rams

Any division game in the NFC West is a rugged battle. The Rams have a defensive line that gave the Seahawks problems a year ago. But they aren't strong enough overall to beat Seattle, even at home in their out-of-date dome. Prediction: Win

Week 8: at Carolina Panthers

The Seahawks were fortunate to win the season opener at Charlotte a year ago. That Panthers team was better than this one, but back-to-back road games against very physical defensive teams will end the Seattle winning streak. Prediction: Loss

Week 9: Oakland Raiders

Coming off their first loss of the season and returning home against an outmanned opponent, is there any doubt? Prediction: Win

Week 10: New York Giants

The Seahawks easily defeated the Giants 23-0 last year in New Jersey, a dress rehearsal for their Super Bowl victory at the same location -- MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks won't need a rehearsal to roll past the Giants in this one. Prediction: Win

Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs

This likely will be a low-scoring game between two strong defensive teams. Odds are against any team that has to try to win by matching its defense against the Seahawks' D. Prediction: Win

Week 12: Arizona Cardinals

The last time the Cardinals played at CenturyLink Field was last December when they handed the Seahawks a 17-10 loss. That won't happen again unless the Seahawks get caught looking ahead to the 49ers game. The Seahawks don't look ahead. Prediction: Win

Week 13: at San Francisco 49ers

It's a Thanksgiving night, national TV game in the 49ers' shiny new stadium against the hated Seahawks. If San Francisco can't win this one, its time as a championship contender is over. Prediction: Loss

Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles

This is the toughest part of the season for the Seahawks with back-to-back road games against likely playoff contenders. But the 10 days between games will help and be enough of a cushion to keep Seattle from losing two in a row. Prediction: Win

Week 15: San Francisco 49ers

This is a game that could decide which team wins the NFC West. No way the Seahawks lose to the 49ers twice in three weeks, especially not in front of a rabid full house of 12s. Prediction: Win

Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals probably will be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Seahawks already will be in at 12-2. That difference will be just enough for Arizona to win at home in the same stadium where the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl a few weeks later. Prediction: Loss

Week 17: St. Louis Rams

For the second consecutive year, the Rams close the regular season in Seattle. And for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks will beat them without much trouble. Prediction: Win

Predicted Record: 13-3

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Former Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley has a new job and it just happens to be with Arizona's Week 1 opponent.

Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, the Cardinals will have to protect themselves from Lindley's intimate and deep well of knowledge of their playbook, which he had to turn in after being cut on Aug. 26. He was signed to the Chargers' practice squad Sunday after spending about 20 months in Arians' system.

"It's definitely going to put a little wrinkle in our operation, I would say, because as a quarterback he knows everything that's going on," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "It's one thing to know it and another thing to stop it and know when it's coming.

"I don't think we're going to deviate from the plan much."

Quarterback Carson Palmer sided with Fitzgerald. Not a lot will change, mostly because the Cardinals' playbook is so deep, Palmer said. But once Arizona starts prepping for San Diego, it'll change the code words and a few other small nuances that Lindley would know.

"It's totally different when a quarterback goes," Arians said. "That hasn't happened very often."

While Arizona's signing of former San Diego linebacker Thomas Keiser appears to be an act of gamesmanship, Arians assured that it wasn't. The Cardinals need help with their pass rush more than they need a few secrets about the Chargers.

Even so, Keiser said Tuesday that the Cardinals' coaches haven't debriefed him on his former team. If and when they do, it may not help that much, Arians said.

"I think Ryan probably knows a whole lot more about both sides of the ball than Tom does," Arians said. "He knows how to rush the passer. I don't know what he's going to tell me about Philip's (Rivers) offense, but Ryan does know a lot about both sides of the ball."

Monday will be a rare meeting for both teams, since they played in the preseason finale on Thursday. But Arians said he couldn't glean anything from that game, which turned into an ugly tryout between third stringers on both sides.

Lindley, who was released by then, never took a snap under Arians, watching behind backup Drew Stanton as Palmer played in all 16 games in 2013. But with two training camps in Arizona's offense, Lindley has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of it. He also knows the intricacies of a very complex scheme.

Having a former teammate -- and a recent one at that -- take a wealth of information to another team is always dangerous and it'll help the Chargers in some regard, Palmer believes, but Arizona can't veer from its course because of Lindley.

"We do a lot so it's tough to get a beat on exactly what we're trying to do in a certain formation or a certain personnel group," Palmer said. "We're on the offense and Bruce is of the mindset that you play offense, you don't play defensively offensively. We are going to attack and we are going to do what we do and they have to counter.

"They might have a beat on a thing here or there but we have to stick with our rules and stick with what we have been doing and what we have been working on and we will be fine."
RENTON, Wash. -- After all the speculation in preseason about whether All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas really would be the punt returner for the Seahawks this season, and all the debate about whether he should be, Thomas said he’s ready to go.

“I get to play punt returner and free safety," Thomas said Tuesday. “I get to play both ways. This is what I did in high school, so it just feels good to be on the ultimate stage like this and have that opportunity.”

His first official chance comes Thursday night in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field. Thomas was asked how many touchdowns he thinks he can score this season returning punts.

“I’m not putting a limit on anything,” he said. “I just want to be the best and have fun. I know when I get the ball in my hand I’ll make something happen, though.”

He hopes the same thing isn’t true for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Thursday night.

“The biggest thing that he does that’s so great is he’s able to create with his legs,” Thomas said of Rodgers. “He hitches up and scrambles, maybe to his right, and his receivers do a great job at keeping the play alive.

“So we have to make sure our eyes are right. We can’t get lost in the backfield, because if we do that, that’s how big plays are being created. But that never happens with us. We understand our jobs.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As expected, the San Francisco 49ers brought back special teams ace Kassim Osgood on Tuesday, the team announcing he was signed to a new one-year contract after he was cut on Saturday.

And in the corresponding roster move, the 49ers placed nose tackle Glenn Dorsey on the Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list as he continues to rehab from surgery to repair a torn left biceps suffered in early August. He cannot play in a game until after Week 8.

Osgood, meanwhile, had an inkling he would return to the Niners.

“I knew it was always a possibility,” he said. “Again, being able to work within the rules of the league, and being able to keep people that want to be here but let them go with the possibility of bringing them back is always on the horizon. I knew there was the potential for it to happen so it wasn’t a big deal for me.”

Besides, it happened last season, when the three-time Pro Bowl special teamer was released on Aug. 31 but re-signed 11 days later.

Osgood, 34, said other teams showed interest over the holiday weekend.

“But I wanted to stay here in San Francisco,” he said. “It’s a better fit or me.”
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch talked to the media Tuesday for the first time since the Super Bowl.

Actually, Lynch did everything he could to not talk to the media in regard to football questions, but still have a brief interview session around his locker with the music blaring behind him, making it almost impossible to hear his brief responses.

Lynch did have a meaningful response to a question about his foundation.

TV cameras are not allowed in the locker room, not that any of Lynch's comments would be usable for video or audio because many of the words in the music are profane.

Lynch has completely outsmarted the NFL in it's requirement for him to talk to reporters. He has made it a mockery, while technically, fulfilling his league obligations.

It was much better when he didn't talk at all. Clearly, Lynch doesn't want to talk to reporters, but if the NFL is going to force him to do so, it should be done in a professional manner.

Quarterback Russell Wilson and free safety Earl Thomas spoke at a podium at the back of the team facility, but Lynch did not.

Here are Lynch's answers to football-related questions:

What he saw from Wilson in the preseason: "Just continuing to grow."

What does he think of the offensive line: "I see ‘em coming together."

On what he thinks of how running backs Robert Turbin and Christine Michael played in preseason: "I just want the best for them young men."

On whether the team will throw more this season: "I guess we'll find out."

On his goal for the season: "Have fun."

Lynch stared blankly when asked questions about his holdout. However, in his defense, Lynch wanted talk about his foundation when asked about it afterward.

"Of the kids who've gone through my foundation, a number of them are in [NCAA] Division I [football programs]," he said. "I've done had kids come from Barbados and Canada. I'm not turning down no kids."

Lynch spoke fondly of one young man he remembered specifically.

"I had a kid say he was committing suicide by him coming [to Lynch's offseason youth program in Oakland] because it put his life in danger," Lynch said. "But he wasn't gonna miss the opportunity to be a part of it.

"Helping that young man through his little situation is big for me. It's not something to boast and brag about, but it touched me dearly."
The St. Louis Rams waited patiently to make an addition at quarterback after losing starter Sam Bradford for the season. On Monday, they made their move by claiming quarterback Case Keenum off waivers from the Houston Texans.

ESPN.com Rams reporter Nick Wagoner and Texans reporter Tania Ganguli discuss what the Rams are getting in Keenum and what Keenum's role will be in St. Louis.

Wagoner: Tania, I remember chatting with you before the Rams and Texans played last year and you mentioned the local push for hometown favorite Case Keenum to be the starter. Coincidentally, he took over that job after the Rams beat up on the Texans and went on to start eight more games. Now he's a Ram after they claimed him on waivers Monday afternoon. You saw every one of Keenum's starts. What are the Rams getting in their new backup quarterback?

[+] EnlargeCase Keenum
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriCase Keenum has had problems facing defensive pressure as an NFL quarterback.
Ganguli: They are getting a quarterback who knows what he needs to do but struggles to do it.

Keenum’s remarkable college career made him a lot of fans locally, but he spent all of his rookie year on the Texans’ practice squad before making the roster last season. The Texans’ quarterback situation was incredibly strange last season. By the time Keenum became the starter, the Texans' season was in such a spiral then-coach Gary Kubiak wanted something to spark his team.

That’s the positive with Keenum. He has moxie (Wade Phillips’ word, and I liked it). He was probably the best natural leader in the Texans’ quarterback room last season. He can lift a team emotionally. The problem is a lot of the rest of the responsibilities. In his early starts, it took opposing defensive coordinators until halftime to decipher Keenum. In his second start, he threw three touchdown passes to Andre Johnson to give the Texans an astonishing 21-3 lead over the Indianapolis Colts at halftime. They lost that game 27-24. By his later starts, opponents had enough film to shut him down from the start.

His main issue is handling pressure. His first instinct is to run away from it. He went backward for sacks more than any other quarterback in the NFL last season. In college he was very successful improvising and using his legs, but he hasn’t adjusted to the idea that it doesn’t work the same way in the pros. Don’t get me wrong -- every so often his improvisation led to a terrific play. He just expects it too often.

He doesn’t have trouble reading defenses; he has trouble reacting and making the right decisions once he has. A few times last season, a dejected Keenum noted that he knew what he was supposed to do, he just didn’t think to do it in time. His internal clock also needs work and he holds on to the ball too long when he tries to make plays.

Keenum’s fan base in Houston still exists, though it has begun to acknowledge that he’s struggled. The Rams’ situation is an interesting one for him, with starter Sam Bradford out with a torn ACL. What kind of situation do you see this being for him?

NW: The Rams mean it when they say they are committed to Shaun Hill as the starter. I think it would take something pretty drastic in terms of his performance or an injury for that to change. That means Keenum is coming in to serve in a backup role behind Hill. The Rams are keeping Austin Davis on the roster as well, bringing the total quarterbacks on the 53 to three. Davis has been around for three years and knows the system, so there's no reason to rush Keenum into trying to become the primary backup right away. After Keenum settles in, perhaps he pushes Davis for the No. 2 job behind Hill. But that's unlikely to happen right away. The Rams don't view Keenum as any sort of long-term replacement for Bradford, but they'd certainly welcome a young quarterback who could provide some depth beyond just this season.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- They were selected three spots apart in the 2011 NFL draft. In the time since, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn have developed into two of the league's most dominant defensive players, regardless of position.

Watt, who checked in at No. 1 amongst defenders in our most recent #NFLRank project, was rewarded for his outstanding body of work early Tuesday morning. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Watt agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension with the Texans. Mortensen reports the deal includes $51.8 million guaranteed, the most for a defensive player in the history of the NFL.

Soon after that news broke, Quinn offered his congratulations to his fellow 2011 draftee via Twitter.

It's left unsaid here but Quinn also might as well have tossed in a hashtag with the words "thank you" after it. That's because with Watt now officially setting the bar in uncharted territory for a defensive player, Quinn has a pretty good idea of what his next contract is going to look like. Luxurious, indeed.

Clearly, Watt's value to the Texans makes him a player they know they can't replace. He's a dominant run-stuffer and an incredibly productive pass-rusher while playing a position where it's hard to get sacks.

The Rams should view Quinn the same way after his breakthrough 2013 season. In posting 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles, Quinn proved beyond a doubt that he's the Rams' best and most valuable player. Beyond his pass-rush production, Quinn also made great strides as a run defender and, for whatever it's worth, earned record-high grades for a 4-3 defensive end from Pro Football Focus.

The scary thing about Quinn is that he's only 24 years old and just scratching the surface of what he can do in the NFL. Working with defensive line coach Mike Waufle, one of the best in the league at his craft, there's almost no ceiling to what Quinn could become.

The Rams have Quinn under control for the next two years at the reasonable cap charge of a combined $9,971,381, which includes the bargain rate of just over $3 million this season. In theory, they could wait it out and use the franchise tag if they wanted but it seems unlikely they'd go that route since there's no reason to potentially anger the easy going Quinn.

Instead, my expectation is the Rams will wait until after this season to begin talks on extending Quinn. After the year, the Rams will free plenty of cap space (a number which could be even bigger if they part ways with quarterback Sam Bradford) and Quinn will have a chance to add another dominant year to his overall body of work.

There's little doubt the Rams will work to ensure Quinn remains a franchise fixture well into the future. Now that the bar has been set, it's not really a matter of if but when.

2014 Predictions: St. Louis Rams

September, 2, 2014
Sep 2
ESPN.com St. Louis Rams reporter Nick Wagoner makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson destroyed the Rams the last time he visited St. Louis but the defense should be much improved, Craig Dahl no longer plays for the Rams and they should be able to score enough to start the season with a win. Prediction: Win

Week 2: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An early-season trip to Florida will provide quite a challenge in terms of heat and humidity after a mostly mild St. Louis summer. The Bucs look like they could be vastly improved and the Rams wilt late in the Florida sun. Prediction: Loss

Week 3: Dallas Cowboys

Dallas back DeMarco Murray will be a popular fantasy play this week given his recent success against the Rams, but this time should be different as the Rams head to the bye with a 2-1 record. Prediction: Win

Week 5: at Philadelphia Eagles

An absolutely brutal stretch of schedule gets off on the wrong foot, as the Rams can't keep up with the Eagles' high-octane offense. Prediction: Loss

Week 6: San Francisco 49ers

The nightmare of this matchup from prime time a year ago could be erased here but the 49ers find a way to pull this one out late. Prediction: Loss

Week 7: Seattle Seahawks

The Rams are a perennial headache for the Seahawks, especially at home, and that will be no different this time. But not having Sam Bradford at quarterback will again leave the Rams a play short of the upset. Prediction: Loss

Week 8: at Kansas City Chiefs

The Rams surprised many by blowing out a perceived AFC power on the road against Indianapolis last year. The Chiefs get a similar treatment. Prediction: Win

Week 9: at San Francisco 49ers

The Rams' first trip to Levi's Stadium ends like their last one to Candlestick: with a convincing loss. Prediction: Loss

Week 10: at Arizona Cardinals

Two trips out West in as many weeks with another tough opponent caps off the most brutal three-game stretch of the season with a close loss to the Cardinals. Prediction: Loss

Week 11: Denver Broncos

This game could be closer than it might look on paper considering how physical, aggressive teams give the Broncos problems. Ultimately, what could be Peyton Manning's final visit to St. Louis sends him back to Denver with a win. Prediction: Loss

Week 12: at San Diego Chargers

The losing streak reaches four games and the Rams officially hate the West Coast more than mid-'90s fans of the Notorious B.I.G. Prediction: Loss

Week 13: Oakland Raiders

The Rams come out on top in the battle of two teams most often speculated to move to Los Angeles. Prediction: Win

Week 14: at Washington Redskins

There will be much reminiscing about the infamous 2012 trade these two teams made in the week leading to this game but it's RG III's Redskins who win a close one. Prediction: Loss

Week 15: Arizona Cardinals

This is the Rams' best bet for a win in the division and they follow through by knocking off the Cardinals. Prediction: Win

Week 16: New York Giants

The Giants' retooled offensive line is no match for the group coached by Mike Waufle, the man who once led the Giants' defensive line to Super Bowl glory. Prediction: Win

Week 17: at Seattle Seahawks

Ending the season with a loss in Seattle has become something of an annual tradition. Prediction: Loss

Predicted Record: 6-10

ESPN.com Arizona Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: San Diego Chargers

A late Monday night game is set up to benefit the home team. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will be the first quarterback to try to exploit Arizona's weakness at inside linebacker. After months of preparing, the Cardinals' defense will outmatch the Chargers' offense in their debut. Prediction: Win

Week 2: at New York Giants

Eli Manning could be the right recipe for the Cardinals to get their pass rush steadied, but coming off a short week and a cross-country road trip will be a challenge to the veterans, especially under the bright lights of New York City. Prediction: Loss

Week 3: San Francisco 49ers

Arizona will have a full week to prepare for the 49ers, and last season's Week 17 loss won't be far from the Cardinals' memories. The Niners will also be the Cards' first opportunity to face a top-tier tight end, for whom they drafted safety Deone Bucannon. Expect a lot of nickel and dime packages so the rookie can get his first taste of Vernon Davis. Prediction: Win

Week 5: at Denver Broncos

If there's one quarterback who can find Arizona's weaknesses on defense (inside linebacker and the pass rush) and exploit them, it's Denver's Peyton Manning. If there are two coaches who know Manning better than any duo in the league, it's Arizona's Bruce Arians and Tom Moore. It'll be a chess match. Prediction: Loss

Week 6: Washington Redskins

By Week 6, the Cardinals -- and the rest of the NFL -- will know which Redskins offense is showing up every week. Robert Griffin III will either keep wearing on a tired defense that would've faced four top-flight quarterbacks by then or he'll be a sight for sore eyes. Prediction: Win

Week 7: at Oakland Raiders

Carson Palmer gets his first crack at the Raiders on the field he despises. If he's not pumped for this game, Palmer won't be pumped for any this season. After five straight weeks of facing talented quarterbacks, the Cardinals' defense will finally get a reprieve. Prediction: Win

Week 8: Philadelphia Eagles

The Cardinals got down early last season in Philadelphia and nearly came back in the fourth quarter. If that happens this season, the Eagles might bury Arizona. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will be returning to the state in which he played his college football, and the Eagles might be running like a well-oiled machine in Year 2 under Chip Kelly by this point. Prediction: Loss

Week 9: at Dallas Cowboys

Like the Redskins, which Cowboys team shows up will decide who wins. But on the road at Dallas, in a stadium the team has never played in, the Cardinals will have to overcome more than football. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be in for a long day regardless, with either Patrick Peterson or Antonio Cromartie awaiting him on either side. Prediction: Loss

Week 10: St. Louis Rams

The Cardinals' offensive line will have nine weeks to jell before facing the Rams' fearsome defensive line for the first time. Lining up Andre Ellington out wide should neutralize the pass rush, while Arizona's pass rush should impact a Sam Bradford-less offense. Prediction: Win

Week 11: Detroit Lions

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson won't be able to take advantage of Peterson's size anymore with Cromartie now an option to guard him. With Johnson partially neutralized, the Lions' passing game won't be as effective. For the second straight week, however, the offensive line will have its hands full. Prediction: Win

Week 12: at Seattle Seahawks

The last time Arizona played at Seattle, the Cardinals broke the Seahawks' home winning streak. The weather could start turning by late November, and it will be Arizona's first outdoor game since mid-October. Prediction: Loss

Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons

Back indoors, the Cardinals' secondary will have its hands full with another stout quarterback-receivers tandem. But the second straight road trip, and a cross-country flight, doesn't bode well for another conference win. Prediction: Loss

Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs will provide a good tuneup for the Cardinals heading into a brutal final stretch of games, the main difference coming at quarterback: Defending Alex Smith is more like preparing for Palmer than Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson. Kansas City will throw a tough defense and one of the top running backs at Arizona. Prediction: Win

Week 15: at St. Louis Rams

Another short week doesn't bode well for the Cardinals' veterans, but, with the second round of the NFC West beginning, the Cardinals will know what to expect. Arizona has lost all four of its Thursday night games, but this could be the one that ends that streak. Prediction: Win

Week 16: Seattle Seahawks

By this point the Super Bowl hangover will have set in, and the Cardinals will know how dire these last three games are. No matter how far removed from the playoffs they are, the Cardinals will play to win. Prediction: Win

Week 17: at San Francisco 49ers

The season finale could be the difference between making the playoffs or not for the Cardinals, but the same could be said for the Niners. Kaepernick, Davis and Frank Gore might be too much for a weary defense. Prediction: Loss

Predicted Record: 9-7 

ESPN.com San Francisco 49ers reporter Paul Gutierrez makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.

Week 1: at Dallas Cowboys

The 49ers' offense sleepwalked through most of the preseason as it worked out its kinks. Opening against the league's worst defense from a year ago should help with the fix. Prediction: Win

Week 2: Chicago Bears

A nationally televised night game to officially christen and present $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium will also do wonders for the 49ers' offense. The big question then is how the new sod reacts. Prediction: Win

Week 3: at Arizona Cardinals

A 2-0 start may be a recipe for a letdown, and the Cardinals will only be too happy to oblige. Even with DT Darnell Dockett lost for the year. Prediction: Loss

Week 4: Philadelphia Eagles

The 49ers rebound quickly from their first loss and respond angrily against the Eagles at home. Poor Nick Foles. Prediction: Win

Week 5: Kansas City Chiefs

Welcome to the house you helped build, Alex Smith. Kinda. Now, go ahead and get outta town. Prediction: Win

Week 6: at St. Louis Rams

There is always a game a team loses that it should win. On Monday night, against an ancient rival that is without its starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, this is the one. Prediction: Loss

Week 7: at Denver Broncos

Panic time? Peyton Manning picks apart the 49ers' secondary with aplomb and visions of that 34-0 exhibition victory by Denver don't seem so deviant. Prediction: Loss

Week 9: St. Louis Rams

Payback isn't just a James Brown classic. The bye came at a perfect time to regroup and refit. Prediction: Win

Week 10: at New Orleans Saints

The Saints are a different team at home. And simply too much on offense. Prediction: Loss

Week 11: at New York Giants

Another long roadie -- their fourth road game in six weeks -- proves to be more bountiful than their previous three. Eli Manning keeps throwing passes, and the 49ers keep picking them off. Prediction: Win

Week 12: Washington Redskins

The feel-good win in New Jersey gets the guys' minds right in Santa Clara. Which is bad news for the folks who play in Landover, Maryland. Prediction: Win

Week 13: Seattle Seahawks

The 49ers have had this one circled since April. And, yes, at home, they have Seahawk for Thanksgiving dinner. Prediction: Win

Week 14: at Oakland Raiders

They had to cancel the preseason series between these two Bay Area rivals because of fan violence in San Francisco. So what happens on Pearl Harbor Day in Oakland? Raiders give Niners a scare. Prediction: Win

Week 15: at Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has not been a nice place for the Niners, who have lost their past three games at CenturyLink Field by a combined score of 94-33. Make it four straight. Prediction: Loss

Week 16: San Diego Chargers

By this time, it will have been almost four months since the Chargers' first-team defense abused the Niners' starters on offense and Philip Rivers shredded the 49ers' first-team defense. These will be different teams now, right? Prediction: Win

Week 17: Arizona Cardinals

The 49ers will be in full stride now, either trying to wrap up the NFC West or a wild-card spot. At home, they are simply too much for the much-improved Cardinals to close out the regular season. Prediction: Win

Predicted Record: 11-5 

RENTON, Wash. -- Running back Christine Michael was among five players who did not practice Monday for the Seahawks. Michael strained a hamstring at practice last week and did not play in the final preseason game at Oakland Thursday night.

Others who did not practice were cornerback Tharold Simon (knee), tight end Cooper Helfet (knee) guard Lemuel Jeanpierre (neck) and rookie outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who injured his left hamstring in the Oakland game.

Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and rookie wide receiver Kevin Norwood -- two players who were out during training camp -- have returned to practice on a limited basis.

Irvin had hip surgery in June and Norwood had foot surgery a month ago to remove bone spurs from his ankle.

“We’re taking it day to day,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Irvin and Norwood. “We’ll see how they handle it. We’re hopeful they will have a chance to play.”

Cornerback Jeremy Lane also was limited in practice with a groin injury. Lane is the team’s starting nickelback. He did not play at Oakland.

Rams roster breakdown: Defense

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have their initial 53-man roster in place, and they are now in full preparation mode for Sunday's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

Coach Jeff Fisher made it clear the roster could still have some tweaks, but for now let's take a look at how the roster looks. Earlier, we started with the offense . Now, let's take a look at the defense and special teams.

Defensive line (9) Chris Long, Robert Quinn, William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Aaron Donald, Alex Carrington, Ethan Westbrooks

The deepest collection of talent on the team and perhaps the best line in the league, this group has a little bit of everything. The Rams kept nine in 2013 and it was no surprise when they did so again this week.

Linebacker (5) James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Daren Bates

This is the thinnest position on the defense and it would not surprise if the Rams looked to add more help, particularly if they can find a veteran with some experience. Because offenses around the league regularly play with three or four receivers, the Rams will be in sub packages quite a bit which means the need for help here isn't urgent. But a single injury of any note would certainly change that.

Cornerback (6) Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Lamarcus Joyner, Brandon McGee, E.J. Gaines, Marcus Roberson

Johnson's sprained MCL will cost him four to six weeks and forced the Rams' hand to keep an additional body that likely came in the form of Roberson. McGee has an ankle injury which has cost him time in the preseason. Joyner projects to stay as the nickelback, with Jenkins starting in one spot on the outside. The interesting battle in the short term is who gets the nod to start opposite Jenkins. McGee has a little more experience but if he's not fully healthy, Gaines could get the first chance.

Safety (4) T.J. McDonald, Rodney McLeod, Maurice Alexander, Cody Davis

Instead of the five the team has carried in the past, the Rams are going with these four for right now. Alexander and Davis will be key special teams contributors right away, but neither offers any meaningful playing experience in the league as depth behind the starters.

Specialists (3) Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein, Jake McQuaide

This trio should be together for the long haul.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams revealed their 10-man practice squad Monday afternoon as they head toward Sunday's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

The 10 players on the practice squad are linebacker Denicos Allen, receiver Emory Blake, safety Christian Bryant, defensive tackle Matt Conrath, safety Matt Daniels, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, tackle Sean Hooey, linebacker Kevin Reddick, receiver Justin Veltung and guard Brandon Washington.

As coach Jeff Fisher hinted Saturday afternoon, the Rams went heavy at positions like linebacker and safety, where they don't have a lot of depth on the active roster, which ultimately left defensive end Michael Sam off the list. The Rams have five defensive ends on the 53-man roster.

Of the 10 players to stick around on the practice squad, only the two linebackers did not spend the preseason with the Rams. Allen spent training camp with the Carolina Panthers after entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. Reddick spent time with the New Orleans Saints last year and through this preseason.

The other eight spent the offseason and preseason with the Rams.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the third consecutive year, the St. Louis Rams look like they will be the youngest team in the NFL.

According to a yearly study from Philly.com after team's trim their rosters to their initial 53 players, the Rams once again have the youngest team in the league with an average age of 25.09.

In the past three years, the Rams have clearly been the league's youngest team, but what's interesting is they haven't exactly been older in consecutive years despite sticking to their youth movement.

When Rams coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead took over in 2012, they cleaned house and made it clear they aren't afraid to roll with young players in prominent positions. That first year, they went from one of the league's oldest team to the youngest at an average age of 25.32 years.

They stuck to the plan last year and were actually younger with an average age of 24.96 years. They are a little older this year, but not as old as they were in 2012.

Regardless, there is something to be said for the Rams having a plan and sticking to it. There are no awards for being the youngest team in the league, but a lot of franchises pay lip service to the idea of building through the draft then panic and change the plan when things don't go well.

It's a bit easier for the Rams to stick to the plan with an experienced coach like Fisher in charge, but it should also be clear that youth is no longer an excuse for this team.

The Rams are young by design, but they also have a lot of players with plenty of playing experience. In fact, the Rams might only have one rookie -- cornerback E.J. Gaines -- in the starting lineup on opening day, and if they do, it's because of an injury to certain starter Trumaine Johnson.

Snead likes to refer to the mistakes of his young team as "spilling milk" and has said he hopes that two years of spilling milk leads to much less in 2014.

It will have to if the Rams' plan to break through this season is to come to fruition.

Rams roster moves may not be done

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams trimmed their roster to the initial 53 players on Saturday afternoon. Not the final roster, the initial roster.

That's an important distinction to make at this time of year with rosters in flux all over the league. Rams coach Jeff Fisher didn't hesitate Saturday to mention that his roster could look much different soon enough.

"We got to 53 (players), as everybody else has," Fisher said Saturday. "I can’t say that we’re done. We’re no different than any other team in the league. We’re going to watch the wire and see if it’s at all possible for us to upgrade our football team over the next couple of days.”

In looking at the roster, there are a couple of positions that stand out as places where the Rams could tweak. Since starting quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Cleveland, Fisher has been open about the team's interest in potentially adding a quarterback to provide depth behind Shaun Hill.

As it stands, only Austin Davis remains on the roster behind Hill after the Rams released rookie Garrett Gilbert. The Rams have carried just two quarterbacks at times in two years under Fisher but Davis has never taken a snap in a regular-season game.

Fisher again mentioned the Rams have not engaged in any trade discussions for a quarterback but that they would keep all of their options open as they scour the market.

“Well we’ve gone into most games with two quarterbacks on the active roster," Fisher said. "We have one on practice squad here and there. That’s not an issue. The quarterback position is a position that we’re going to address, that we’re going to monitor. We’ll get the list (of cuts) and we’ll see what’s out there. I’m sure there’ll be workouts and tryouts and a potential to do some things at the position but right now as I said a couple of days ago, we’re not going to overreact. We’re going to apply patience to this situation.”

It would also stand to reason that the Rams will take a closer look at linebackers who come available. They only have five for now, which is at least one fewer than they normally carry. They don't have to add a sixth but the only backups are second-year players Ray Ray Armstrong and Daren Bates, neither of whom has played much other than special teams.

As for where corresponding roster moves could come from, tight end would seem a logical place to start. The Rams have five on the roster, including youngsters Justice Cunningham and Alex Bayer.

“It’s probably heavy at the position," Fisher said. "But it shows you what both Alex and Justice have been able to do and contribute. Again, there’s going to be some movement on the roster. We’ve felt like this year’s roster going in may be heavy here and there. We’ve got an additional spot, unfortunately, because (WR Stedman Bailey) ‘Sted’ won’t be with us for four weeks so you can go heavy here or there.”