Arizona is not a good team. They have lost three games in a row, including one to our very own Seattle Seahawks. The three games they have won were unimpressive. It looked like they were going to get their signature victory last week in Minnesota, but instead stumbled into an agonizing loss in which they gave up 14 4th quarter points and fumbled a certain defensive touchdown on the Vikings first possession. Take heart, Seahawks fans, that another fan base knows heartache and frustration.
The Seahawks beat Arizona in Seattle with perhaps the worst winning effort we have seen from the team. A five-to-one turnover advantage helped Seattle’s woeful offense to 22 points. There were epic mistakes like drop-kicking returns and attempting to pick up fumbles with one hand. Max Hall was so abysmal that Derek Anderson looked dangerous when he relieved him in the 2nd half.
This game will be different. If the Seahawks want to right the ship, they will need to do it by stopping the run and sustaining at least two scoring drives of over 50 yards. Stopping the run will be a tall order given the injury situation, but Brandon Mebane is back, which helps. I also have a lot of faith in Pete Carroll’s ability to be creative on defense to cover the team’s weaknesses.
If the Seahawks can slow down the run, the Cardinals passing game is weak as is their pass protection. The game plan in the first game involved very little pass pressure or blitzes. We didn’t see the bandit package until the 4th quarter, when Arizona clearly had to pass. When it was used, it was effective. Carroll clearly thought Max Hall was not good enough to beat his defense regardless of how much time he had to throw. That proved to be true. Expect to see more pressure and gambling this week. The Seahawks defense is too injured to sit back and wait for the offense to fail. A key area to watch will be Kelly Jennings in the lineup instead of Walter Thurmond. Thurmond did a great job against Fitzgerald in game one, and Jennings has a history of being a whipping boy to the Cards. Either Jennings needs to step up, or the coaches need to make a substitution.
Offensively, the Seahawks will struggle to run the ball unless Russell Okung is back and healthy. The team got almost nothing on the ground against the Cardinals at Qwest after Okung limped off during the first series. Mike Williams dominated the Cardinals secondary, and will need to repeat his performance. The Seahawks will not win unless Williams has at least 75 yards receiving and a touchdown. Turnovers will be more important in this game than the average NFL match-up. Neither offense is likely to put up big numbers, and the first team to give the opponent a short field will be at a severe disadvantage. Matt will need to be turnover free for the Seahawks to have a chance.
Despite the three-game losing streak and previous loss to the Seahawks, the Cardinals should win this game at home. They have fewer key injuries, and have been stepping up their game while the Seahawks have been crumbling under the weight of the last two losses. Winning this game on the road would be more impressive for this version of the 2010 Seahawks than the Chicago win was for that version of the 2010 Seahawks. That said, Arizona is bad enough that it has a real chance of happening. Seattle must be the aggressors, and do everything possible to make the Cardinals offense move the whole field to score. Neither Arizona QB is capable of throwing consistently. Make them win the game, and the Cardinals almost certainly lose.