Monday, September 3, 2012

Cardinals Present Dangerous Opener

The Arizona Cardinals suck. They traded for a quarterback who can't win a job. They were forced to start John Skelton, almost by default, and injuries have already taken a big bite out of the already challenged offensive line. The Seahawks should win this game by simply boarding the plane to Phoenix. Not so fast.

Seattle played the Cardinals twice last year. They won by three points in Seattle, and lost by three points in overtime in Arizona. Skelton? He played in that second game, and threw for 271 yards (149 of which were to Larry Fitzgerald). The offensive line? They surrendered a whopping 54 sacks last season, second-worst in the NFL. How much worse can they really be? The Seahawks even won the turnover battle in the second game 2-1, and still came out with a loss. In other words, the Cardinals had the same problems last year they enter the game with this year, and yet they still won one and lost another by just a field goal in Seattle.

Road openers are tricky, regardless of how good your team is or your opponent. The 2005 Seahawks started the year by having Josh Scobey "Doo" fumble the opening kickoff in Jacksonville. They went on to get beat handily 26-14. It was the start of a modest 2-2 beginning to what would eventually be a stunning 13-3 season.

Seattle has added significant talent to their pass rush since the teams last met. It absolutely has to show up in this game for the Seahawks to feel confident about winning. That would almost certainly lead to additional turnovers, and make the whole game simpler for an offense that will need a little while to on track.

There is a lot for the Seahawks to prove on Sunday. They need to demonstrate their maturity is beyond their age, and overlooking opponents is not a part of their makeup. They need to show that they can beat a Top 10 defense on the road. The offense needs to show it can score points and protect the ball against a play-making defense. Special teams must prove they are not going to cost the team a second opener.

Arizona will charge into this game eager to prove all their doubters wrong. The reality of their hopeless season will not have set in just yet. The Seahawks will leave this game with doubters either way. A win, from the national perspective, would be as much about the Cardinals ineptitude, as it would be about the Seahawks supremacy. A loss would invite the "same old Seahawks," reaction. Should Seattle enter the match-up with the appropriate amount of respect for the Cardinals, they will walk away victors. 

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