ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Rams' weakness will be severely tested by the Seattle Seahawks' strength.
The Rams' run defense, ranked 30th in the NFL at 126 yards a game, will have its hands full against a Seattle rushing attack led by Marshawn Lynch that is second in the league.
"Marshawn, in my opinion, is the toughest guy to tackle in the NFL. He runs hard every play," St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "I mean even if you put eight or nine in the box, he can take it. I have a lot of respect for Marshawn. It's a huge challenge for us."
Lynch, a three-time Pro Bowler, is gaining 4.2 yards per carry for an offense that is second in the league in rushing, averaging 154.4 yards per game. He has 578 yards and six touchdowns this season, and leads the NFL with 17 100-yard games since 2011.
"He's as advertised. He's a good as there is in the NFL," Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. "He fights for every extra yard. He's so talented. We'll have our hands full. It's going to be a challenge."
Overall, the Rams' defense ranks 22nd in total yards allowed at 373 per game and 24th in points allowed, giving up 26.3 per game.
Seattle (6-1) averages 368.6 yards a game — 10th in the NFL.
In his past three starts against St. Louis, Lynch has gained 115, 118 and 100 yards. He has caught eight passes in those games for 59 yards.
"He's an outstanding back. He plays good without the ball," St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said. "He's a good blocker. I saw a game where there's a turnover and he comes and strips defensive lineman from behind, knocks the ball out, those kinds of things. He's just an outstanding running back."
The Rams' problems don't end with Lynch. Quarterback Russell Wilson also is a threat to run. The mobile, second-year quarterback has rushed for 323 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt.
"We are aware of what Wilson can do, but we don't want to be robotic out there on our assignments," defensive end Robert Quinn said. "We need to be disciplined. Lynch is just another challenge for us, too. You kind of smile with it. You know what you're getting and we can't let it discourage us. We're not afraid to take on anyone, of course."
The Rams' run defense showed improvement last week against Carolina. The Panthers had 38 running plays and averaged 2.7 yards a play.
Defensive coordinator Tim Walton said that showed the defense can do well against the run.
"We made some strides," Walton said. "We have to continue to get better each week."
NOTES: QB Sam Bradford (knee) was on the sideline Friday watching practice. ... With Monday's game going head-to-head with Game 5 of the World Series, Fisher said the fans won't miss out. "We'll broadcast what's going on in the stadium. Whoever's there, we're going to keep them updated. We'll keep them posted on the score. We expect a great crowd."
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org