The conclusion of this piece is going to be illogical, and maybe stating that isn’t this best way to start a football game preview, but I feel compelled. After all, the NFL has not been kind to logic this year.
Many fibers that make my brain function tell me that the Arizona Cardinals should come into Seattle, and absolutely smoke this struggling Seahawks team. Even though they got beat up soundly by a struggling Carolina Panthers team last week, up until that game, I’ve been thinking that these Cardinals have been the best team in football.
This is year three for Kliff Kingsbury’s system down in the desert, and I completely underestimated what that could mean for the Cardinals heading into this season. In a nutshell, it means that his core players know that system inside and out, and they can all function together at a fast and furious style of play on both sides of the ball. They are potent, and they know it.
Think of year three for Pete Carroll in Seattle which was Russell Wilson’s rookie year in 2012. In that season, Russ was not the straw that stirred the drink for this club, it was Pete’s defense that had officially evolved into the Legion of Boom, and it was complimented by a power run offense that featured Marshawn Lynch and Russ’s play-making style. Out of nowhere, those Seahawks surprised the masses by beating a handful of good teams, and they became a tough out in the playoffs.
2019 was also year three for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco and that club completely shocked and dominated the football world, narrowly losing to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. In that season, I thought, without a doubt, they were the best overall team in football.
This year, I look at the Cardinals, and I see a team that has a very 2019 49er feel about them. They are young, talented, well coached, and they are playing in their systems offensively and defensively with a ton of confidence. They sense this is the year for them.
Conversely, the Seahawks feel like they are on the opposite side of the spectrum. While, they have some nice parts in Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and their defense has turned around towards playing good ball lately, on the whole, this team has a bit of a worn out vibe to them.
Duane Brown no longer looks like a top tier left tackle. Damien Lewis has struggled to pick up playing at left guard and probably feels more comfortable at his natural right guard spot. Chris Carson appears broken at running back. Carlos Dunlap has disappeared as a pass rusher. These are players that, at the start of the season, were thought to be impact players Seattle could ride with, and they simply haven’t been.
When you put that together with the fact that GM John Schneider neglected to upgrade their weakness at center, the fact that their top pick in slot receiver Dee Eskridge got injured early and missed a ton of games, the fact that Ken Norton Junior failed to start his defense with a scheme that made sense to the players, and Russell Wilson finally got injured to the point of missing games (and his probably still figuring out the offense with his new coordinator), these Seattle Seahawks appear to the a team that is old, injured, not super talented, and not playing well together in any complimentary way.
They are what their 3-6 record says that they are. They aren’t a good club right now.
Even if Colt McCoy plays this game in place of superstar QB Kyler Murray, these Seahawks are a team that these Cardinals are probably pretty poised to beat. After all, McCoy led a much less talented NY Giants team into Seattle last year, and soundly outplayed Russell Wilson and beat him, when Seattle was the much better team. This year, he is a backup on a team that is a clear Super Bowl contender, and Seattle is a shadow of the team it was last year.
It makes all the sense in the world to predict that not only will these Cardinals beat Seattle this weekend, it also makes sense to predict that they will bury this team. They are the vastly better team and they are probably coming into Lumen Field pissed off from their own disappointing loss over the weekend.
Make no mistake, this game is the Arizona Cardinals’ “get right game.” They are in a tight battle for the NFC West title with the LA Rams, and if they beat this struggling Seahawks team this weekend, they extend their lead in the division. A loss to Seattle would drop them to only having a half game lead over a very talented Rams team that traded their entire 2022 draft to go all-in this year.
These Arizona Cardinals, with or without Murray, are looking at putting Seattle away in this one. Pete Carroll knows this, too.
I watched his press conference this Wednesday, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him so testy with reporters and nervous when talking about the strengths of an opponent. It wouldn’t shock me if he looked at the tape of AZ and thought to himself afterwards that perhaps Seattle had a better chance of winning in Green Bay than they have against this Cardinal club when now Duane Brown has a tender groin, Chris Carson is still in doubt, and Russell Wilson is probably still trying to shake off the rust after missing a month of football.
Carroll knows that this is a game where these Cardinals can take advantage of his struggling club. That coupled with the fact that his star quarterback put unprecedented pressure on his club to win this year, yeah, I get why Carroll might have been testy in his response to the reporter question of dealing with pressures to turn this thing around.
So, as I add all these things up in my mind, I feel like I have reached a very illogical conclusion when I say that I predict that Seattle will win this game on Sunday, 28-23, over the soaring Cardinals.
I’m not going to go into any great depths as to why because, truthfully, I don’t think that there are any great depths to it. There’s just so much weirdness in the world right now.
This 2021 NFL season is incredibly weird. The woeful 49ers steamrolled what should be a dominant Rams team on the most recent MNF game. A horrible Jaguar team embarrassed the Super Bowl contending Buffalo Bills, and a bad Dolphin team beat a good Ravens one.
This is as weird of a football season as I can remember, and in a league that prides itself in parity, yes, absolutely these Seahawks can beat these Cardinals.
If Shane Waldron can dip into his Rams offensive playbook a bit more by scheming creative uptempo run with pass combos, Russ might have shaken just enough of the cobwebs off in Green Bay to have a decent bounce back game in this one. This could be a game where Seattle uses AZ’s aggression against them. They love to blitz, and generally, Russ is good against the blitz.
If Seattle can simply get this W, their schedule softens up to where a four game win streak is not out of the realm of possibility, and if that happens, sitting at 7-6 would make it feel like perhaps that seventh playoff spot is there to go get. So, as much as Arizona has every incentive to win this game, Seattle has more.
I think, as hobbled and distorted of a club as they are right now, Seattle has just enough talent to catch Arizona off guard in this one. Thus keeping all the weirdness of the 2021 NFL season alive.
Whenever my team isn’t doing very well, I always take joy in rooting for chaos. I see a lot of chaos happening in this one. I don’t know how Seattle manages to get to 28 points scored, it might take a defensive score to get there, but I sorta feel it happening.
I think this is gonna be a fun one, and I’m here for it.
From your mouth to Gods ear……