NFL Gridiron Gab Week Seven Preview: Arizona at Seattle

Cardinals WR Steve Breaston should return in time for Sunday’s game in Seattle

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

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’S ROLLER COASTER SEASON:

Though Seattle is feeling good at the moment, it’s been a week to week, up and down ride for Seattle 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 casting doubt on the merit of the Hawks’ victory.

Next, the Seahawks go to Denver and get dismantled, which perhaps isn’t so terrible considering the Broncos are a tough team to play when they’re at home.

In Week 3, Pete Carol saw his troops hand the Chargers a 27-20 loss, which was also considered an upset at the time.  Subsequently, the Chargers have fallen to 2-4 with their latest loss to the Raiders, again casting doubt on exactly what kind of team Seattle will be for the remainder of the season.

The Rams handed the Seahawks an embarrassing 20-3 loss in St. Louis in Week 6, but in true roller coaster fashion, the Hawks put it together against Chicago, which brings Seattle to their most important adversary to date, the Arizona Cardinals.

CARDINALS’  SEASON IS ALSO A THRILL RIDE:

Arizona’s roller coaster 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.

MAX HALL VS. THE TWELFTH 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.

Such a staunch run defense could present problems for the Cardinals, particularly Max Hall.  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.  The factor of the twelfth man cannot be under emphasized.  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.  If there’s a rookie quarterback you want leading your team into Seattle, it’s Max Hall.

HAWKS DEFENSE IS WEAK 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.  It would be a daunting task for 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 JEKYLL AND HYDE CARDINALS DEFENSE:

A lot will be decided by which defense shows up for the Cardinals 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 at grabbing sole possession of first place.

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.

CARDS’ OFFENSE NEEDS TO 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

Offense:

WR1 – Larry Fitzgerald, ^Early Doucet [groin], 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], Stephen Williams, 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]

NT – Bryan Robinson, Gabe Watson, Dan Williams

DT – Darnell Dockett, ^Alan Branch [shoulder]

ROLB – Joey Porter

RILB – Paris Lenon, Reggie Walker

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 [ankle], Hamza Abdullah

FS – Kerry Rhodes, Rashad Johnson

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

LDT – Brandon Mebane, 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 (ankle), Roy Lewis, Kennard Cox

SS – Lawyer Milloy

FS – Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor

RCB – ^Kelly Jennings (hamstring), Walter Thurmond, Nate Ness

Head to Head Match Ups 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

AccuScore 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’ 2010 Season Outlook:

Seattle should be right there with the Cardinals 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 Hawks, therefore, have taken the 49ers’ place as the team that poses the greatest threat to take the NFC West crown from the Cardinals.

The next few weeks should determine a lot, 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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