The battle between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals Sunday night at Century Link Field will go a long way in determining who will be in the drivers seat for the NFC West Division race. In fairness the 6-2 Arizona Cardinals have the car keys in hand, door opened and about to step into the drivers seat. The two time defending Champions Seahawks will be trying to wrestle the keys away from the Division leading Cardinals and find their way back into the drivers seat. To say this will be made for television viewing would be an understatement. But yes factually speaking the Sunday night showdown will be nationally televised on NBC.
The battle between the two NFC foes should be an all-out war with both teams rested and both coming off a perfectly timed mid-season bye. With all the players rested and their weapons locked and loaded. Sundays encounter will be an old fashioned wild west shootout. The Cardinals are led by Carson Palmer who will look to test the Seattle Legion of Boon secondary. Questions will be plenty and the answers will determine the tone and tenor of the game.
Will Palmer be able to get the ball to receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown who have combined to catch 112 passes for 1,587 yards and 13 touchdowns? The Cardinals have completed 37 passes of 20 or more yards, the third most in the NFL. Palmer is averaging a league-best 9.1 yard per pass attempt.
The Seahawks meanwhile, started off the season by uncharacteristically giving up 11 completions of 20-plus yards in their first two games, but have allowed only 14 in six games since then, looking more like the defense that allowed the fewest such plays in each of the previous two seasons (30 in 2013, 32 last year).
In addition the Seahawks have allowed just one touchdown by a wide receiver so far this season. According to Seahawks Head Coach Peter Carroll, the Seattle defense will be looking to take away the big play factor in the battle with the Cardinals.
“If you give up long touchdown plays, you’re not a very good defense. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how hard you hit or whatever, so it all begins there. That’s the first aspect of playing defense, you can’t give up easy plays, so it just begins there.That’s the first aspect of playing defense, you can’t give up easy plays, so it just begins there. How much do we speak about it and try to make sense of that? As much as we can and as much as need be, and we’re very lucky and fortunate that our guys on the back end have really understood that. Earl (Thomas) has been a tremendous advocate of the philosophy, as has Richard and Kam, and Cary (Williams) is really tuned in.”
While it will focus on stopping the Cardinals offense, Seattle will look to flex it’s offensive muscle by mixing up the bone crushing runs of Marshawn Lynch with the play action passing and running of quarterback Russel Wilson. While he is listed as questionable due to an abdominal injury, Lynch is expected to spear head an offense that is third best in the league with 139.5 rushing yards a game. In their two losses to Pittsburgh and St. Louis, Arizona allowed 305 rushing yards. According to Wilson the key to beating Arizona will be a balanced attacked.
“Well they’re so versatile. They have a lot of great players from the secondary, to the defensive lineman, to the linebackers. They fly around. So they can do a lot of different things. So you just kind of have to make sure you get protected and get the ball out on time, and find the right guy at the right time.”
Seattle has won 13 of their last 18 games, 36 of their last 48, and 45 of their last 64 dating back to the final half of the 2011 season, the Seahawks own a 47-27 prime time record, a 19-12 record on Sunday night and are 15-2 in prime time games under Pete Carroll since 2010, outscoring opponents 417-194. Seattle is 9-0 in prime time home games since 2010.The two teams have split the 32 meetings with Seattle sweeping the season series in 2014 and winning four of the last five contests dating back to 2012. Arizona is just one of three teams to defeat the Seahawks in Seattle since 2012.