The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks share an historical oddity – the Cardinals had a better divisional record than the Seahawks, but the Seahawks won the NFC West title for the third straight season; the Cardinals have gone 31 years without one. The Cardinals hope to reverse those fortunes Sunday when they play their home opener against the Seahawks.
The Seahawks hope to carry momentum into today’s game with a solid defensive effort from last week, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-6. Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander ran for 105 yards and a touchdown but paid a price; Alexander sprained his left wrist on Sunday and will be wearing a cast or some other device in today’s game. Quarterback Matt Hasslebeck passed efficiently vs. the Bucs, going 17-for-24 for 222 yards and a TD.
The Cardinals hope to erase their lack of offense today against a solid Seahawks defense; QB Matt Leinart put in a subpar performance against the 49ers last week. going 14-for-28 for 102 yards with 1 TD and 2 interceptions. The only bright spot in Arizona’s offense was RB Edgerrin James; he rushed for 92 yards and a TD. The wide receivers for the Cardinals were pretty much a non-entity as the leading receiver was TE Leonard Pope with 3 receptions and only 22 yards.
The Seahawks will need Alexander to continue his running ways (even with his sprained wrist) against the Cardinals defensive line and Hasslebeck may want to get WR Deion Branch more involved in the team’s offense. LB Julian Peterson should be able to prosper as well. The Cardinals key to success this weekend is pretty obvious – a much better effort from Leinart and more involvement by Cards’ WR’s Anquan Bolden and Larry Fitzgerald. What I see is plenty of passing by Leinart to both Bolden and Fitzgerald, combined with a solid defensive effort (especially sacking Hasslebeck) that will spur the Cardinals to their first divisional win of the season. You could consider this almost a “must-win” game for the Cardinals.