The Seattle Seahawks travel to the desert on Sunday in an attempt to keep their scant playoff chances alive by knocking off the division-leading Arizona Cardinals.
INJURIES:Both teams appear to be at full strength for this game. The only Seahawk of note on the injury report is QB Matt Hasselbeck, who is listed as probable but still nursing sore ribs. Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin will return to the starting lineup after being hampered by a sore ankle that kept him out last week. Cards' defensive end Chike Okeafor is listed as questionable with a back injury.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Cardinals QB Kurt Warner -The possible future Hall of Famer has been up and down all season. On some nights, he looks every bit the sharp passer he was in last year's playoffs when he led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Then, there are games like the one he had against Carolina a few weeks back when he threw five interceptions on route to a 34-21 upset at the hands of the lowly Panthers. The last time these two teams met, Warner sliced and diced the Seahawk defense to the tune of 276 yards passing and two touchdowns back in Week 6. Getting pressure on the immobile Warner and forcing him to turn the ball over is the Seahawks' best chances at pulling off the upset. If Warner has time to throw to his plethora of weapons, we'll be looking at another blowout similar to the 27-3 beatdown from a month ago.
KEY MATCHUP: Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald- Miles Austin, Calvin Johnson and now Larry Fitzgerald. It hasn't been easy for the Seahawks' star corner since coming back from the PUP list three weeks ago. Trufant rebounded from an awful game against Dallas to snatch his first interception against Detroit last week. Now, he'll have to shut down Fitzgerald(or at least significantly hamperhim from the 13 catches for 100 yards and a score day he had the last time against Seattle). As pointed out before, winning the turnover battle is paramount in stopping a high-powered offense like Arizona's and Trufant is one of football's best defensive game-changers. It seems far-fetched that this Seattle secondary can shut down all three of Warner's targets(Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston), but if Trufant can take away Fitzgerald's side of the field, it will make getting to Warner a lot easier.
OUTLOOK:The Cardinals are surprisingly horrid at home(1-3), which would be a sign of hope for Seattle if they weren't so ghastly on the road(0-3). The Seahawks are the healthiest they've been all season and, with a loss here pretty much ending their playoff chances, are much more desperate for a win than Arizona is. That being said, it will come down to which Seahawk team shows up on Sunday. If it's the team that dominated on both sides of the ball last week against the Lions, they have a good shot at pulling off the upset. However, if we see another repeat of the team that has failed to provide protection for QB Matt Hasselbeck like it did the last time it faced Arizona and continues to lay down on defense like it did against Dallas two weeks ago, then head coach Jim Mora can start prepping for the Draft on Monday morning. I think Seattle keeps it closer then the 9-point spread would indicate, but inevitably, poor protection and an unreliable run game becomes their undoing.
SCORE: Cardinals 28, Seahawks 24
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.