The Arizona Cardinals will travel to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday. The Cardinals have lost eight straight games. The question we ask ourselves is, does this team even have a chance?
Lets look at numbers. The Cardinals offense is the worst in the NFL. The Seahawks’ defense is fourth in the league in terms of yard allowed per game. The Seahawks are undefeated at home and the Cardinals have won just one game on the road. It was against the defending AFC champions, but that was ages ago in the fans’ eyes. The answer to the question above is a very simple no.
If the Cardinals were to have a chance they would need to rely very heavily on their defense. Next, the question is, how do you stop Russell Wilson? This is question that seems to be harder and harder to answer each week. If the Chicago Bears could not do it, the Cardinals really don’t have a chance. However, the key to the game will be keeping Wilson inside the pocket and let it collapse around him with no escape.
The Seahawks are becoming more of a balanced team and that is making it hard for opposing defenses to stop them. RB Marshawn Lynch is an absolute beast. His motor never stops. If the Cardinals can stop him, they still have to deal with WR Sidney Rice and Golden Tate and of course Wilson. Now, here are the probable starting lineups and three keys to the game for each team.
Quarterback: Cardinals: John Skelton
Running back: Beanie Wells (questionable)
Fullback: Anthony Sherman
Tight End: Jeff King
Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts (questionable)
Offensive line (from the left): Nate Potter, Daryn Colledge, Rich Ohrnberger, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie
Quarterback: Russell Wilson
Running back: Marshawn Lynch (probable)
Fullback: Michael Robinson
Wide Receivers: Sydney Rice (questionable), Golden Tate
Tight end: Zach Miller
Offensive line (from the left): Russell Okung, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini
Cardinals’ Defense (Base 3-4)
Defensive Line: DE Calais Campbell (questionable), DT Dan Williams, DE Darnell Dockett
Linebackers: OLB Quentin Groves, MLB Daryl Washington, MLB Paris Lenon, OLB Sam Acho
Cardinals: CB Patrick Peterson, CB William Gay, SS Adrian Wilson, FS Kerry Rhodes (questionable)
Seahawks’ Defense (Base 4-3)
Defensive Line: DE Red Bryant, DT Brandon Mebane, DT Alan Branch, DE Chris Clemons
Linebackers: SLB K.J. Wright, MLB Bobby Wagner, WLB Leroy Hill (questionable)
Secondary: Seahawks- CB Walter Thurmond , CB Richard Sherman, SS Kam Chancellor, FS Earl Thomas
Arizona’s Keys to the Game
The number one key to the game for the Cardinals is create controlled chaos on defense. They need to have everybody flying around, but with a plan. If they don’t have a plan Wilson is going to tear the Cardinals up. CB Patrick Peterson, well really everybody, needs to have the game of their life or this game is going to get out hand early.
Next, I say it every week, but the Cardinals need to run the ball. The Bears did not have success running the football, but other teams this year have. RB Beanie Wells needs hit the hole fast because this Seahawks defense closes them in a hurry. The Seahawks have fallen to 12th in the league in rushing defense, so that is something the Cardinals need to be able to exploit.
Finally, John Skelton could literally throw the ball into the ground on every play and still have a better quarterback rating than Ryan Lindley did last week. He needs to not lose this game and just let the defenses play it out. The Cardinals set an NFL record last week for lack of third down conversions. They went 0-15. The Seahawks are one of the worst in the league getting off the field on third and long.
Seattle’s Keys to the Game
The Seahawks are going to want to run the ball a lot. The Cardinals’ run defense is 24th in the league. If DE Calais Campbell can’t go this week, Russell Okung and John Moffitt are going to be able to push the Cardinals’ defenders all over the field. The Seahawks have a lot of confidence in Wilson’s decision making, but eliminating turnovers is a good way to blow the Cardinals out.
Next, is the pass rush. The Seahawks pass rush has been very quite these past couple games. Rookie Bruce Irvin should be able to have some fun on third down coming off the edge as a speed rusher. The Cardinals offensive line has given up more sacks than anybody in the league. Chris Clemons will be matched up against Bobby Massie for most of the game. Massie is much improved, but I expect Clemons to be hungry to get a little piece of Skelton.
Finally, the Seahawks need to keep running that zone read. They have been very careful with Wilson all season, but they realize that he is very good at avoiding the big hit, unlike Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick. When Wilson sees an opening, he has been taking off and getting that easy first down. He put the team on his back last week, something tells me he won’t have to that his week.
The Seahawks have some serious momentum going into the final stretch of the season. The Cardinals forgot what momentum is and are “desperate” for a win. Well, Cardinals’ fans, it’s just not going to happen.
Prediction: The Cardinals are “gonna have a bad time”. Cardinals 10, Seahawks 31
Follow Kase Brammer on Twitter @KBlive33