The Seattle Seahawks (5-1) visit the Arizona Cardinals (3-3) Thursday night for a key NFC West clash. The game starts at 8:25 PM on NFL Network.
The Seahawks lead the NFC West, but a win on Thursday for Arizona would certainly tighten the race. Arizona missed out on a division win on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, falling 32-20, so they will be eager to recover at home on Thursday.
Seattle, meanwhile, is coming off a sloppy 20-13 victory at CenturyLink Field against the Tennessee Titans. The game would have been much more lopsided had the Seahawks not made foolish mistakes with the football. Nevertheless, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch took advantage of the Seattle defense keeping the Titans’ offense out of the end zone and made enough plays to emerge victorious.
With the short turnaround this week, both teams will look to make ball security a priority. Seattle had some fumbling issues on Sunday, and the Cardinals had four total turnovers in their game. The Seahawks’ turnovers were just out of pure stupidity (I’m referring to Chris Maragos trying to be a hero and Sidney Rice trying to gain that one extra yard), so they’re certain to iron out those issues. Arizona, meanwhile, might have some trouble keeping turnovers to a minimum, since they’ll be facing the Seahawks’ stout defense.
The 49ers managed two interceptions off Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer, and since the Seattle secondary is far superior to San Francisco’s, Palmer could definitely throw a couple more on Thursday. In fact, it’s almost a certainty when one looks at the Cardinals’ running game.
Russell Wilson has more rushing yards than Cardinals’ leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall (294 to 259 yards). Doesn’t that just say it all? But let’s go a little further, anyway. Even if Arizona had a halfway decent running game, Seattle’s front seven has already stopped talented running backs like Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Arian Foster this season.
Barring a complete mental breakdown, there is no way that the Cardinals establish a running game on Thursday. As a result, Carson Palmer is going to be shouldering the load on offense. This is a guy who’s completing under 60 percent of his passes and who’s thrown 11 interceptions already.
It’s not all on Palmer, though. Beyond Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, the Cardinals don’t have great receiving talent. Fitzgerald was limited in participation in practice on Monday because of a hamstring injury, and if he can’t go on Thursday, then all Richard Sherman and company have to do is watch Floyd. But even if Fitzgerald plays, the Seahawks’ secondary is more than ready for the challenge.
Thus, Seattle should hold Arizona to a pedestrian amount of points. But what about about the Arizona defense matching up with the Seattle offense?
Arizona’s secondary has amassed eight interceptions thus far, with three coming from Patrick Peterson. He and Tyrann Mathieu won’t make things easy for Russell Wilson through the air. Additionally, the Cardinals are ranked 13th in sacks (16), but the loss of Calais Campbell (3.5 sacks) could hurt their pass rush. In any event, Wilson has shown time and again that he can escape the pressure and burn defenses with his legs. Wilson’s athleticism is going to be the key to victory.
This game doesn’t have the makings of a shootout, but it is sure to be an exciting and aggressive game. Two straight division losses would really hurt Arizona, and Seattle would definitely like to leave the rest of the NFC West in the dust sooner rather than later. Expect Seattle’s wishes to come true this Thursday night.
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