NFL Week 7 Preview: Seahawks vs. Cardinals
Another divisional game. Awesome (not). Seattle heads to Arizona for a Sunday night matchup against the Cardinals, who are coming off of a largely predictable victory against the New York Jets. The Cardinals, at 3-3, have not been the impressive squad that they usually are under head coach Bruce Arians, but they still present a number of problems. For Seattle to get the win, they’ll need to focus on these areas of the game, not just for the opponent, but themselves as well:
THE TRENCHES: This is a matchup that Seattle needs to exploit in every way imaginable. They need to penetrate into the backfield (without blitzing excessively, of course), and keep Arizona’s edge rushing duo in Chandler Jones and Markus Golden under control. This is easier said than done – Jones and Golden have combined for ten sacks already. The matchup against the Falcons was so impressive because Seattle ceded very little pressure in pass protection, and no sacks against the typical four-man rush. The interior of Seattle’s offensive line has been better than expected this season, it is important that they continue to play well, and improve the push they get in the run game.
Michael Bennett and Frank Clark are both shaking off injuries, and have practiced in full as of late. Their penchant for the interior rush and their attack mentality will be sorely needed on Sunday. It is important to disrupt the Cardinals’ offense early and often, and this starts with the four guys up front. It isn’t an easy job to block for the quarterback in Arizona, considering the nature of their offense. Seattle needs to make that job even harder.
THE RUN GAME: David Johnson has been excellent this season, amassing 100+ yards from scrimmage in every game. He is a viable threat as a catcher too, with 265 yards through the air thus far. He will definitely keep Seattle’s run defense busy. However, they have been great on the season as well, only allowing 3.3 yards per carry. They also had great recent success shutting down Atlanta’s dual-threat duo, allowing just 67 yards from scrimmage between Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. If Seattle can duplicate that success on Sunday, it will make it even easier to get a win.
While it is important to stuff Arizona’s rushing attack, what is equally as important is getting Seattle’s run game going. I have no mellifluous way of saying it. It’s been shitty. After a relatively hot start, Christine Michael is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry over his last two games. C.J. Prosise has been practicing, but it is unknown when exactly he will start playing again, given the injury affects his hand. C.J. Spiller has had more time to familiarize himself with the offense. Spiller is a very talented and elusive back. It is crucial that with Michael struggling, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell finds a way to get Spiller going.
THE QUARTERBACK: Cardinals QB Carson Palmer hasn’t quite seemed himself this season, with just seven touchdowns to go with five interceptions in five appearances. Now he is apparently dealing with a hamstring injury. Whether or not he suits up, it is crucial that he be contained. While he does not possess the slippery elusiveness of a Russell Wilson, he is capable of extending plays in his own right, which is important in a passing attack that emphasizes vertical throws. This will come down to Seattle’s defensive line and free safety Earl Thomas. Earl had a great game last Sunday, flying all over the field, laying some big hits, and grabbing a crucial interception. He will need to do the same this Sunday. Ultimately, the defensive line needs to limit Palmer’s chances downfield; Earl Thomas needs to make him regret the chances he does take.
Russell Wilson seems to have settled firmly into throwing from the pocket, and he does well at it. He has been getting the ball out quickly and exploiting the talents of Seattle’s aerial playmakers. It’s been phenomenal. But I can’t lie. If he’s healthy enough, I want to see him run more. I’m not saying bring back the zone read in full just yet – but when the defense leaves quick and easy yards on the ground, I want to see him taking some of those. If Wilson can reestablish his threat as a runner, it would work wonders for a Seahawks rushing attack that has been downright terrible. In all honesty, Wilson has done very little to concern me, so I won’t dwell on this. He needs to just keep up the good work.
P.S. Keep feeding Jimmy Graham. If Kam Chancellor can’t play this Sunday either, communication in the secondary needs to be much better than it was in the second half last Sunday – Arizona WILL make you pay for mistakes like that. More Cassius Marsh.
Prediction: This is gonna get messy.