Week 7 Preview: Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks

2010 SEASON RECORDS:

Cardinals: 3-2, 1st in NFC West (tied with Seattle); Last Week: bye

Seahawks: 3-2, 1st in NFC West (tied with Arizona); Last Week: W @ CHI, 23-20

GAMETIME:

Sunday, October 24, 4:05 p.m. EST, Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

BOTH TEAMS SEEK FIRST BLOOD IN THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS:

Feathers will fly when the Cardinals migrate north to crash the Seahawks’ nest in this NFC West match up.  The victor will take sole possession of first place and early dominance in the wide-open division.

The Seahawks must feel pretty good about their season so far.  After a nice draft, Pete Carol has done about as well as can be expected in his first five games as the Seahawks’ top guy.  He’s guided Seattle to a 3-2 record and with the team’s road win against a previously 4-1 Bears’ team, the Hawks are now tied with the Cardinals for first place in the division.

Seattle and Arizona Are Dealing With Roller Coaster Seasons

Though Seattle is feeling good at the moment, it’s been a week to week, up and down ride for the Hawks with sudden drops following every rising swell of confidence.  The Seahawks got off to a great start against San Francisco, pulling what was believed to be a major upset at the time.  Well, the 49ers would lose their next four games throwing a shadow on the significance of Seattle’s “stunning” victory.

Next, the Seahawks went to Denver and got dismantled, which perhaps isn’t so terrible considering the Broncos are a tough team to play when they’re at home.  Denver is probably a much better team than their current 2-4 record might indicate.

In Week 3, the Seahawks handed the Chargers a 27-20 loss, which was also considered an huge upset at the time.  Subsequently, like the 49ers, the Chargers have struggled and have now fallen to 2-4 with their latest loss to the Raiders.   Again, a victory that at the time was considered an indication of Seattle’s strength now doesn’t tell us as much since San Diego seems to be falling apart.

The Seahawks characteristically followed their high with a dashing low when the Rams handed them an embarrassing 20-3 loss in St. Louis in Week 6.  Consistent with this season’s theme, however, the Hawks of course put it together against Chicago on the road, which brings Seattle to their most important adversary to date.

Arizona and its fans can empathize with their northern rivals.  The Cardinals have also been on a thrill ride so far, which may be reaching a crest with Max Hall generating some excitement and establishing a degree of continuity in the offense.  In addition, wide receivers Steve Breaston and Early Doucet will be back shortly, if not this Sunday.  Further, veteran inside linebacker Gerald Hayes is expected to make his season debut in limited action this week.  Finally, the Cardinals are no doubt buzzing from their upset over the Saints in Week 5 and have rested sore bodies during the Week 6 bye.

Not to be outdone, the Seahawks no doubt believe they too are on the upswing.  First, rookie tackle Russell Okung is back healthy and had a very impressive game against Julius Peppers, one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL.  Peppers didn’t record a sack and really didn’t hassle Hasselbeck at all throughout the contest.  If Okung can turn in that kind of effort on a consistent basis, he will be the franchise tackle the Seahawks expected him to be when they drafted him in the first round.

Another recent addition provided the Seahawks with a major boost, former Bills running back Marshawn Lynch.  Marshawn gained 44 yards on 17 carries against a tough Bears defense.  Although he only managed 2.6 yards per carry, Lynch provides Seattle with another dimension in their rushing attack, which so far has been serious lacking; they rank 30th in the NFL with only 85.8 yards/game.

Max Hall Must Contend with the 12th Man

Statistically, the Seahawks have had slightly more success than the Cardinals.  The most stark difference, however, is Seattle’s run stopping compared to the Cardinals.  The Seahawks rank 2nd in the NFL in run defense, allowing only 70.4 yards per game.  In addition, Seattle is getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which could spell disaster for Max Hall.

Speaking of the rookie quarterback, the Seahawks’ staunch run defense could present serious problems.  Without a healthy run game, it could be up to Hall to put the Seahawks away on the road, which is a tough assignment even for a veteran quarterback.  Throw in the twelfth man for good measure and you have a very daunting second NFL start on your hands.  Qwest Field is an extremely hostile environment, especially so for a rookie.  Hall, however, has shown that he is no ordinary rookie.  He’s already flashed the composure and confidence of a quarterback far beyond his experience level.  Just consider his start against the reigning Super Bowl champions if there’s any doubt about his confidence.  If there’s a rookie quarterback you want leading your team into Seattle, it’s Max Hall.

Hawks’ Defense is Weak Through the Air

Seattle’s pass defense so far should give Hall reason to believe that he can achieve success against the Seahawks through the air.  As strong as Seattle is against the run, the Seahawks are as weak against the pass.  They rank 30th in the NFL in passing defense, allowing a whopping 290.8 yards per game.  Again, it may be unfair to ask Hall to win the game for the Cardinals solely through the air, but only two teams have allowed more passing yards per game than the Hawks and that must be an encouraging thought for Ken Whisenhunt and his quarterback.

The Cardinals’ Defense is a Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

A lot will be decided by which Cardinals’ defense shows up on Sunday.  If it’s the defense that allowed 41 points against both the Chargers and Falcons, the Cards will be in for a long day.  If, however, the ball hawking, touchdown scoring defense rears its head, as it did against the New Orleans Saints, the Cardinals obviously stand an excellent chance.

The defensive secondary absolutely shined in Week 5.  Dominique Rogers-Cromartie had an interception (finally) return for a touchdown and seems to have at last arrived at the party.  In addition, Greg Toler picked off Drew Brees just as the Saints were attempting to climb back into the game.  Finally, Kerry Rhodes has turned into a play-making machine with two fumble recoveries for touchdowns in his last two games.

The Cards’ pass rush, however, still hasn’t turned the corner.  Clark Haggans, Joey Porter, Darnell Dockett, and Calais Campbell just aren’t getting to the quarterback.  The fact that these four did not get to the Brees consistently makes the fact that the secondary played so well all the more impressive.  The pass rushers, however, can’t expect the secondary to turn in all-world performances each week.  Eventually, the Cardinals’ have to start dropping opposing quarterbacks.

Beyond the obvious division standing implications, this game is an identity game for the defense.  It’s an opportunity to build off of its inspired Week 5 effort, which forced four turnovers against a normally very ball security conscious Saints team.  In addition, it’s a chance to shed the liability stigma and establish a new identity; a team strength rather than weakness.

The Cardinals’ Offense Must Pull Its Weight

The offense desperately needs to score some touchdowns as it has scored only five of the Cards’ ten touchdowns this season.  The other five TDs are by the defense (two by Kerry Rhodes and one by DRC), Stephens-Howling’s kick-off return, and of course Levi Brown’s fumblerooksi.  Hall is yet to throw a touchdown, though he’s only started one game and saw limited action in San Diego.  It would be nice for Hall to get one through the air to build his confidence, but the Cards will take them any way they can get them.

Frightening Offensive Stats

Here are some of the hard cold facts regarding how poorly the Cards’ offense has played to date.

  • Larry Fitzgerald is yet to break the 100 yards receiving mark this year, hasn’t record a double digits reception game, and only has two receiving touchdowns.
  • Beanie Wells hasn’t scored a touchdown, though he did miss significant time.
  • The Cards haven’t had a pass play gain more than 35 yards and have had only one rush longer than 24 yards (Tim Hightower’s 80-yard touchdown run in Atlanta).
  • The Cardinals’ offense ranks 31st in the NFL in yards per game (240).
  • The offense has converted an embarrassing 18 of 61 third down attempts for a terrible 29% conversion rate.

Clearly, the Cardinals must get their offense back on track whether or not the defensive play carries over from the Saints game.  The addition of Breaston and Doucet to the lineup, if they both return, should provide Max Hall with some fresh options.

CARDINALS’ WEEK 7 DEPTH CHART / INJURY REPORT

Legend: * = probable, ^ = questionable, ` = doubtful, FP = full practice, LP = limited practice, DNP = did not practice

Current as of 10/22

Offense:

WR1 – Larry Fitzgerald, ^Early Doucet [groin] (LP), Max Komar, Onrea Jones

LT – Levi Brown, Jeremy Bridges

LG – Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot

C – Lyle Sendlein, Ben Claxton, Rex Hadnot

RG – Deuce Lutui, Rex Hadnot

RT – Brandon Keith, Jeremy Bridges

TE – Ben Patrick, Stephen Spach, Jim Dray

WR2 – ^Steve Breaston [knee] (LP), ^Stephen Williams [back] (LP), Andre Roberts

QB – Max Hall, Derek Anderson, John Skelton

RB – Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, Jason Wright, LaRod Stephens-Howling

FB – Reagan Maui’a

Defense: 3-4 Base

DE – Calais Campbell, ^Kenny Iwebema [knee] (LP)

NT – Bryan Robinson, Gabe Watson, Dan Williams

DT – Darnell Dockett, Alan Branch

ROLB – Joey Porter

RILB – Paris Lenon, ^Reggie Walker (hamstring) [LP]

LILB – Daryl Washington, Reggie Walker

LOLB – Clark Haggans, Will Davis

RCB – Greg Toler, Trumaine McBride, A.J. Jefferson

LCB – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Michael Adams, Brandon McDonald

SS – Adrian Wilson, *Matt Ware [shoulder] (FP), Hamza Abdullah

SEAHAWKS’ WEEK 7 DEPTH CHART / INJURY REPORT

Offense:

WR1 – Deon Butler, Brandon Stokley

LT – Russell Okung, Breno Giacomini

LG – Ben Hamilton, Chester Pitts

C – Chris Spencer, Evan Dietrich-Smith

RG – Stacy Andrews, Mike Gibson, Mansfield Wrotto

RT – Sean Locklear, Tyler Polumbus

WR2 – Mike Williams, Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu

TE – John Carlson, Chris Baker, Cameron Morrah, Anthony McCoy

QB – Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst

RB – Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Marshawn Lynch

Defense: 4-3 Base

LDE – Chris Clemons, Raheem Brock, ^Dexter Davis [hamstring] (LP)

LDT – `Brandon Mebane [calf] (DNP), Kentwan Balmer

RDT – Colin Cole, Junior Siavii

RDE – Red Bryant, E.J. Wilson

WSLB – Aaron Curry, Matt McCoy

MLB – Lofa Tatupu

SSLB – David Hawthorne, Will Herring, Leroy Hill

LCB – Marcus Trufant, Roy Lewis, Kennard Cox

SS – Lawyer Milloy

FS – Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor

RCB – `Kelly Jennings [hamstring] (DNP), Walter Thurmond, Nate Ness

HEAD TO HEAD SINCE 2001:

The Cardinals have an 8-8 record since 2001.

Arizona has not lost to Seattle since 2007.

The last time Arizona lost in Seattle was in 2005.

  • Nov 15, 2009: ARI 31, SEA 20
  • Oct 18, 2009: ARI 27, @ SEA 3
  • Dec 28, 2008: ARI 34, SEA 21
  • Nov 16, 2008: ARI 26, @ SEA 20
  • Dec 9, 2007: ARI 21, @ SEA 42
  • Sep 16, 2007: ARI 23, SEA 20
  • Dec 10, 2006: ARI 27, SEA 21
  • Sep 17, 2006: ARI 10, @ SEA 21
  • Nov 6, 2005: ARI 19, SEA 33
  • Sep 25, 2005: ARI 12, @ SEA 37
  • Dec 26, 2004: ARI 21, @ SEA 24
  • Oct 24, 2004: ARI 25, SEA 17
  • Dec 21, 2003: ARI 10, @ SEA 28
  • Sep 14, 2003: ARI 0, SEA 38
  • Nov 10, 2002: ARI 6, SEA 27
  • Sep 15, 2002: ARI 24, @ SEA 13

ACCU-SCORE PROJECTIONS:

Seahawks are a 65% favorite to the Cardinals 35% underdog.

Average Scores: Seahawks – 24.8, Cardinals – 19.3

CARDINALS vs. SEAHAWKS RANKINGS:

TEAM OFFENSE PER GAME AVERAGES

Total Yards

ARI  240.0

SEA 292.0

Yards Passing

ARI (30th)       152.6

SEA (21st)       206.6

Yards Rushing

ARI (29th)      87.4

SEA (30th)       85.8

TEAM DEFENSE PER GAME AVERAGES

Yards Allowed

ARI  382.0

SEA 361.2

Passing Yards Allowed

ARI (26th)       241.2

SEA (30th)       290.8

Rushing Yards Allowed

ARI (29th)       140.8

SEA (2nd)       70.4

GAME TRENDS:

  • The Cardinals are 1-2 on the road.
  • The Seahawks are 2-0 at home.
  • The Cardinals are 1-2 as the underdog.
  • The Cardinals are 0-2 as the away underdog.
  • The Seahawks are 0-2 as the favorite.
  • The Seahawks have not been a home favorite this year.

SEAHAWKS’ SEASON OUTLOOK:

While the Cardinals rested this week, the NFC West became a murky bog from which any of the four teams could emerge as champions.  As previously mentioned, Seattle pulled closer with its win over Chicago.  St. Louis improved to 3-3 with its home victory against San Diego.  Finally, San Francisco improved its situation by defeating Oakland giving the 49ers their first victory of the 2010 season.  Even though San Francisco stands at 1-5, they are only 2.5 games out of first place, a margin which can be erased in a heartbeat.

As for the Seahawks, they should be right there with the Cardinals, Rams, and 49ers battling for the lead in the NFC West.  In terms of bragging rights within the division, this is the most important game so far.  The winner of this contest will of course take control of the NFC West with one quarter of the season already in the books.

The next few weeks should determine a lot for Arizona and Seattle, as the Cardinals and Seahawks will square off twice during that period.  After this week, Seattle will face the Raiders in Oakland and the Giants at home before traveling to Arizona in Week 10.


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3 Responses to “Week 7 Preview: Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks”

  1. Excited for the game this weekend. Division games are always a lot of fun.

  2. Tyler Herman says:

    Looking at week 7 there are a lot of tough picks, but this one ranks right up there. Seattle plays great at home yet they have been embarrassingly bad a couple of weeks. Even with Seattle weak pass D, it is hard to tell how Max Hall will do. Not to mention Breaston and Doucet coming back. Meybe they’ll the spark that gets this offense going, or at least get Fitz out of triple coverage to make something happen.

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