The Kellen Clemens Era begins in St. Louis as the Rams entertain the Seattle Seahawks in a Monday nighter between NFC West foes.
The Seahawks come in tied with the New Orleans Saints for the best record in the conference, led by a formidable defense allowing just 16 points per game. Clemens gets the start after regular quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.
Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:
Second-year quarterback Russell Wilson has bolstered the Seattle offense lately after opening the season with a thud. Seattle is averaging a modest 214 passing yards per game, but has 12 touchdowns and should receive a significant boost with the imminent return of star wide receiver Percy Harvin. The Seahawks have excelled in the running game, sitting among the league leaders with 154.4 yards per contest while racking up seven touchdowns on the ground.
For all the flak Bradford was taking from fans, he had actually guided the Rams to a passable aerial attack. St. Louis finds itself just below the middle of the pack in passing yards per game (228), but has 14 passing touchdowns against just four interceptions through its first seven games. The Rams are averaging just 70.6 rushing yards per contest, but are encouraged by the progress being made by first-year running back Zac Stacy.
The vaunted Seattle defense doesn't do opposing offenses any favors, and Clemens should expect plenty of resistance Monday night. The Seahawks have limited the opposition to just under 92 rushing yards per game and four touchdowns on the ground, forcing six fumbles in the process. The pass defense has been even more sensational, ranking second in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game (191) with six TDs against and 11 interceptions.
St. Louis once had a defense to be feared, but hasn't been able to live up to that reputation so far in 2013. The Rams are allowing 247 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The opposition's quarterback rating of 103.4 is among the worst in the NFL. Teams have also been able to run all over St. Louis, gashing it for better than 126 yards per outing with seven touchdowns.
The Seahawks have one of the Top 10 kickoff return games in football, averaging 26.1 yards per attempt. The punt-return game is far less impressive; Seattle has run back six punts for a total of eight yards, easily the fewest in the NFL. Kicker Steven Hauschka has been one of the most accurate kickers in the league to date - connecting on 16-of-17 field-goal attempts - and made both of his kicks in last week's 34-22 triumph over the Arizona Cardinals.
St. Louis finds itself in the middle of the pack when it comes to kick return yardage, averaging 24 yards per attempt. Like the Seahawks, the Rams have been dreadful on punt returns, racking up just 31 yards on 15 attempts. Veteran kicker Greg Zuerlein is a perfect 11-for-11 on field-goal attempts in 2013, including makes for 28 and 42 yards in last weekend's 30-15 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.
"I don't think he's better throwing the football or any of those things ... it's just his command of what we're asking him. He's just more comfortable. This is a kid that really can utilize a deeper understanding of what we're doing because he can act on it. I think, probably as much as anything, he's helping other guys play better around him." - Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll on Wilson
"I've been working on my pass-catching. It was kind of hard, coming in a loss, but it's still a good milestone. That touchdown in that game didn't mean a whole lot, but hopefully there will be more in my career that I'll be able to celebrate." - Stacy, who scored his first career receiving TD in the loss to Carolina.