Tale of the Tape: Cardinals Clearly Better Team, If Healthy

Seattle is running out of chances to revive their flagging season. After losing a very winnable game in Green Bay due to another bad offensive outing they get the division-leading Arizona Cardinals coming to Seattle. If the Cardinals were fully healthy, this would be a game Arizona would be highly likely to win. The Seahawks defense is playing well enough to slow down most, if not all, opposing offenses, but the Seahawks offense has not been good enough to keep the team competitive.

The Cardinals defense is among the best in the league, and has quality players at every level. They are fast and decisive and force a lot of turnovers. They are better than the Packers defense that just shut out the Seahawks. Seattle has to hope that Russell Wilson is feeling better and playing better and that Kyler Murray and possibly Colt McCoy cannot play. If Arizona is down to their 3rd string QB (bet you can’t name him), then Seattle’s chances rise significantly.

If McCoy or Murray do play, the only way Seattle wins this game is if they get a running game going, Wilson rediscovers his best self, and the defense continues to play top ten football.

The way this works: Each offense will be pitted against the opposing defense and compared on an array of key statistical attributes based on their respective rank in the NFL. The tables that follow show the rank of each unit for each of these categories. 

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Seahawks Offense vs Cardinals Defense

Cardinals key advantages on defense

The Cardinals have been flying around on defense all year. They feature two very good edge rushers in Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, while getting solid interior pressure from guys like Jordan Phillips and Corey Peters. Their linebacker group has not been as good one might expect with last year’s top pick Isaiah Simmons struggling in run defense, but their secondary has been great, anchored by safety Budda Baker and a refreshed Robert Alford at corner. They also have Byron Murphy as a quality nickel corner and Jalen Thompson as a superior coverage safety.

Passing against this team is not easy.

Seahawks key advantages on offense

The Cardinals run defense has not been good, giving up over 150 yards on the ground in five games this season, including two of the last three. They are 31st in yards per rush. Seattle has not been good on the ground this year, but it feels imperative that they find a way to get that done the rest of the year, and especially in this game.

Being pass heavy with Wilson’s injury, the OL ability to pass protect, and this Cardinals defense feels like a recipe for a a sure loss.

The Arizona defense has played three of their worst games in the last three weeks, and I do not believe it is coincidence that it coincides with JJ Watt going on IR for the year. Watt was having a very good year, and the Cardinals cannot replace what he brought.

When Seattle does choose to pass, cornerback Marco Wilson should be a primary target. He is struggling mightily with just a 49.3 grade on PFF. Opponents are completing 75% of passes thrown his way, compared to 61% when throwing at the other Arizona corners.

Cardinals Offense vs Seahawks Defense

Cardinals key advantages on offense

When Murray is healthy, he is a cheat code on offense with his electric legs and steadily improving arm. If he manages to play, his mobility will likely be limited due to his ankle injury. McCoy may play, but had a pec issue, which seems tough to come back from in just a week as a QB. Chris Streveler is their third-string QB and may be forced to start this game.

DeAndre Hopkins has also been out a while and may not play. They also lost running back Chase Edmonds recently. The Cardinals main weapon at this point would be James Connor at running back. You would have to think screen passes would be a heavy emphasis to test the Seahawks defense with guys like Connor and Zach Ertz.

Seahawks key advantages on defense

Seattle has been excellent in defending the run of late, which could make life very tough on the Cardinals if they do not have their weapons in the passing game. The Seahawks secondary has also been great lately.

Arizona has a suspect offensive line, and this could be a game where the Seahawks pass rush actually shows up. Seattle likely needs a turnover or two to win this game.

Special Teams

The Seahawks return game has improved substantially. The Cardinals kicking game has been superior to Seattle’s.

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Thanks to Sarah and Chris Rood for sponsoring this series!