Birds of Prey: A Seahawks Vs Cardinals Sunday Night Football Preview

Keep Russ cooking.. smarter

Don’t let their docile name fool you, these Arizona Cardinals are a scary team. They have an exciting dual threat quarterback who is poised to give the NFC West Division fits for years. They have also surrounded him with an exciting group of receivers that features perhaps the best receiver in the league, he has a decent offensive line, he is paired with an explosive running back, and a fast play-making defense. The only thing that plagues them is youth and inconsistency. It would be helpful for Seattle if some of those inconsistencies show up Sunday night.

Expect this to be another very close game. The real test to how much of a Super Bowl contender Seattle is right now begins with this match. Here are my keys to the game, and final prediction.

Seattle Seahawks win this game against the Arizona Cardinals because..

Russell Wilson stays on point and takes whatever this harassing Arizona defense offers. This could easily mean not chasing as many deep passes as he did against the Vikings defense a couple Sunday nights ago. The Vikings defense featured the top safety tandem in the league that was determined not to be beaten over the top, and Russell still sought to throw against them when there was options underneath. He can’t do this again against Arizona. The Cardinals defense has top flight talent at safety with Budda Baker, and at corner with Patrick Peterson. This might be a game where Russ chooses underneath patterns to running backs and tight ends a bit more to keep the Cardinals honest. Quick passes to Tyler Lockett might also be more of a bigger factor at play.

All the potential Antonio Brown to Seattle hubbub has lit a fire under DK Metcalf, Lockett, and David Moore. Not that they needed this fire to be lit because each has been playing pretty well this season, but these men are competitors (especially DK). They probably understood their quarterback’s interest in Brown and were well aware of his interest in the pass catcher for months, but it would be hard to not let human nature take over for a bit, and they come out with points to prove. DK will face physical corners that he hasn’t faced since playing the Patriots and he might chose to put a little extra pepper in his play against them blocking in the run game, and in his catch after the run opportunities. Lockett is a good receiver to match up against Peterson with his route running, and I expect a good game from him. David Moore might be the ex-factor who plays with the biggest chip on his shoulder. Look for a few explosive catch and run opportunities going to Moore as the game wears on.

Chris Carson has a big night as a runner and pass catcher. This might be the game where Carson shows the nation that he is one of the most talented backs in the league while in a contract year. The Cardinal defense can be run on, and their linebackers can be challenged in the pass game. Seattle’s ability to stay balanced between the run and pass is likely to play a factor in winning. Don’t expect Seattle to retreat to a run game, but rather pass to set up the run and possibly take advantage of the Cardinal’s blitzes with draws and screens. Carson could have a big, big night in this one.

Seattle’s defenders stay patient and disciple enough against Kyler Murray. Seattle should know by now how to play against Murray. The Cardinal’s star quarterback resembles their own star passer in many, many ways, and is even a more dangerous runner. Seattle has to stay disciple with it’s pass rush, and that probably means having their defensive ends play a containment game while a linebacker or safety spies on Murray. Murray can be inconsistent as a passer, and if Seattle can keep him in the pocket, that’s likely going to benefit its defense.

This is a good game to get a healthy Jordyn Brooks back at linebacker. He’s a fast player who’s strength is defending the run. Don’t be surprised if Seattle uses him as a spy on Murray (he did this very thing against him in college), and don’t be surprised if the interior rushers such as Jarran Reed, and Jonathan Bullard show up in the stats more than their edge rushers if Seattle’s defense does its job well enough.

Seahawks loose this one against the Cardinals if

Russell Wilson gets rattled by blitzes, turns the ball over, and they don’t get the run game going enough. This is what happened in a late season loss to the Cardinals last year in Seattle. The Cardinal defense is going to look to replicate this, and it is up to Seattle to have a healthy does of counters. Russell has to find and hit the wide open receiver when the defense blitzes him. Brian Schottenhiemer has to call a great game mixing in the run with the pass to keep the defenders more honest. The Cardinals cannot be in his playbook like they were late last year.

Seattle’s defense doesn’t contain Murray and they don’t do enough to slow the run game. The match up against the Seattle defense with the Arizona offense might be the real battle in this one. Because of Murray’s ability to run, Arizona has one of the top running attacks in the league, especially when you mix in Kenyan Drake. Arizona had a day in Seattle last year because the banged up Seattle defense couldn’t stop either on the ground. Seattle must make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This would have been a great game to get Jamal Adams back and get Snacks Harrison active at defensive tackle, but neither is going to happen. Therefore, Jarran Reed must have a solid game as defensive tackle. Jordyn Brooks must blend well with KJ Wright, and Bobby Wagner. Ryan Neal must continue to show his flashy potential at safety in place of Adams. Benson Mayowa and the other edge rushers must play a smart game of disciple with their rushes. The Seattle corners must not give up many deep passes. There are a lot of musts that need to happen on the defensive side of the ball.

My Prediction

I’m itching to predict that Arizona hands Seattle it’s first loss of the season Sunday night. I think they match up well against Seattle, they are coming off a flashy win on Monday Night Football against a struggling Cowboy team, and they have to be feeling the momentum. However, I am going to cut against my grains of logic and I am going to say that Russell Wilson and company find enough ways to win this one, improving to 6-0, with a final score of 31-27.

Seattle plays a pretty consistent brand of bend don’t break defense. While it frustrates fans, I actually think there is a method to this madness. They will continually be willing to surrender yards so long as they do not surrender too many points. I think the way Arizona likes to play on offense lends to what Seattle does fairly well with this defense, and that is to play strong enough against the run, and keep pass play in front of them. Eventually, the quarterback makes a mistake.

The big inconsistency to Murray’s game right now is his overall accuracy. Seattle just needs to figure out how to force Murray into making accurate throws. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr might get a little more creative with his personnel and play calling in this one with a week off of football.

On the flip side, I think Russell Wilson is going do come into this game very determined to show he’s the league leader for MVP and to show Murray who’s still boss within the NFC West quarterback circles. I also kinda think that with the Antonio Brown noise, the Seattle receivers might play with extra chips on their shoulders. Mixing in another effective Chris Carson outing, and this can be enough for Seattle to shine on Sunday night yet again.

While Arizona feels like the hot team right now, Seattle has had the benefit of the bye week to reset as a team on both sides of the ball. They are also the more veteran team, especially at quarterback. This is why I am ultimately making this fairly homer-ish pick.

I hope I am right.

Go Hawks.


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