This week’s Sunday Night match up with the Arizona Cardinals vs the Seattle Seahawks is getting a lot of attention. Needless to say, these two teams do not like each other. The Seahawks have owned the rivalry over the last couple seasons though, winning 3 out of the 4 games, and Seattle has gone on to win the divisional title by doing so.
When Head Coach Bruce Arians first took the reigns in Arizona, the team traveled up to Seattle and beat the mighty Seahawks despite 4 interceptions thrown by Carson Palmer. Some will say that Carson Palmer came back and won the game but not me. It’s true, Palmer led the game winning drive but it was the Todd Bowles defense that won up in Starbucks country, trust me.
Arizona came out with a simple defensive game plan, to just contain Russell Wilson. The idea was to not over pursue the QB, to stay in the lanes that he usually uses to escape. While simple in it’s design, this took much discipline from both the line and the edge rushers. The result was Seattle only scoring 10 points in their own back yard, and even worse, these days pinning Russell Wilson in the pocket is a shared recipe that many teams use.
1. Carson Palmer has only been sacked 11 times through the first 8 games. The Arizona offensive line is currently ranked fourth in the NFL. While other teams went out and traded offensive linemen for tight ends, Arizona has been beefing it up in the protection area for 3 years now. Mike Iupati and Jared Veldheer will most likely make the Pro-Bowl this year, but the whole line deserves the credit.
2. Arizona has perhaps the best receiving core in all of football. Larry Fitzgerald is playing like he’s 25. They also have the speedy sensation known as John Brown who is 25, but he runs the 40 in like 2 seconds (I kid), crazy fast. Then you you have the very physical first round draft pick in Michael Floyd, who doesn’t dissipate from the contact, he dictates and enjoys the contact.
3. The run game is finally on point in Arizona. Chris Johnson is third in the League for rushing yardage, and Arizona is loaded with 3 running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield which keeps the defenses honest. This opens up everything for the passing game, especially with the play action that Carson Palmer has thrived in. A balanced play call will be crucial in Seattle, if Arizona can get anywhere near 100 yards on the ground then it will be hard for Seattle to win the time of possession battle.
-Reasons to be Defensive
*Russell Wilson leads the League in sacks taken this year, 31 times to be exact. While the Arizona Cardinals are not considered sack masters, they are known to get after the quarterback which results in lots and lots of picks. The Cardinals have an NFL best 13 interceptions (along with Giants and Panthers) in 2015. The Seattle defense has 3 (that’s not a misprint).
*Seattle is still ranked 2nd in total defense though (they are followed by Arizona who ranks 3rd).
*While the run game has improved in Arizona, it has never faltered in Seattle. The Seahawks rank 4th in rushing yardage as a team, if the Cardinals can’t stop the run come Sunday, then they may have to witness more obscene gestures while certain candy loving individuals cross the goal-line.
-Give me the Keys Player
The Arizona defense has to be ready for this game. This will be their biggest test and any mental meltdowns will most likely be costly. The Cardinals are successful in being a blitz happy team, but that can be catastrophic when you add in the scrambling quarterback. Arizona must stuff the run while containing Russell Wilson. I am not too worried about the Arizona secondary but some turnovers would be nice.
The Cardinal offense has to stay true to a balanced attack, Arizona cannot become one dimensional. Running the ball against one of the best run defenses in the League is something they will have to do if they want the NFC West title.
And I know i’m wasting my breath right now, but limiting the deep shots down field might help sustain some of the Arizona drives a bit. But I imagine the Cardinals are where they are because of taking shots, and having the reputation of being so dangerous may lower the number of guys Seattle puts in the box.
-Give me the Key Players
Calais Campbell has to have a big game, he has had some success getting to Russell Wilson and the Cardinals will need that to continue.
Carson Palmer has to protect the ball. Playing on the road is tough enough, giving up the ball and short fields puts the defense in the toughest of positions. Take what you can get, don’t be afraid to throw the ball away, yada yada yada, he knows the drill.
Edge rushers -Alex Okafor is hopeful to play in this game (injury), along with Markus Golden and Dwight Freeney who have been getting mostbof the snaps as of late. These cats will have to babysit the edge, and not give Russell Wilson the escape route he will be searching for. The smart “be where you are supposed to be” football is what it will take to limit Wilson’s take offs.
Chris Johnson and Marshawn Lynch
Whoever wins this battle probably wins the game, if the turnovers aren’t a lopsided factor that is.
The Arizona offensive line might just be the biggest key. If Arizona can run and pass, I don’t see the Seahawks winning in a shoot out.
-Give me the Score
I will not. I just hope that the Cardinals play to the best of their abilities, because they can play with anybody when they do.
Pics and graffix by Mike Yduarte
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