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The Arizona Cardinals invade the Hawks Nest in an NFC West Showdown

Posted By Erik Olsoy On Sep 23 2011 @ 4:29 am In Seattle Seahawks | No Comments

The Seahawks have suffered consecutive losses on the road to the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but will return to raucous CenturyLink Field in Seattle to take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.

The Seahawks have had a difficult start to the season, both with scheduling and with injuries.  However, they will be bolstered this week by Sidney Rice’s Seahawk debut.  Rice had been dealing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, but has fully participated in practice this week, and looks ready to go for this weekend.  He might be the most talented receiver the Seahawks have had since Steve Largent, and the fact that he is familiar not only with the Seahawks’ offense, but with Tarvaris Jackson as well should help speed up his acclimation to life in Seahawk blue and green.

Last season, en route to the NFC West championship, the Seahawks beat the Cardinals twice.  The Cardinals have since filled their biggest need of the offseason by adding former Philadelphia Eagle quarterback, Kevin Kolb, and he hasn’t disappointed.  Kolb has thrown for 560 yards in the Cardinals’ first two games, and has the team thinking that they can win the division championship.  They’d take a big step toward that by beating the Seahawks in Seattle.

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Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals' new signal-caller, has brought new life to Arizona's offense.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, I don’t think they’ll win.  They have one of the worst defenses in the league, and their only defensive successes have been in the turnover department.  Tarvaris Jackson does a nice job of taking care of the ball, and will have the additional support of the aforementioned Sidney Rice.  I think Jackson will throw for over 200 yards and a couple touchdowns.  This matchup would also be a great opportunity for running back Marshawn Lynch to start making his presence felt as well.  Also keep in mind – CenturyLink Field (formerly known as Qwest Field) is one of the best home field advantages in the NFL, and the Seahawks rarely lose when playing there.

Though the Seahawks’ pass defense will likely be exposed by the already-lethal, aerial combination of Kevin Kolb and superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald, I think the Cardinal attack will be very one-dimensional this week.  The Seahawks have only allowed opposing running backs 3.1 yards per carry this season (5th best in the league), and they have played against more decorated and reputed running backs (Rashard Mendenhall and Frank Gore) than Cardinals starter Chris “Beanie” Wells.  I think Wells will be in for a long day against what has proven thus far to be a stout Seattle defensive front.

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The Seahawks defense will be looking to stuff Beanie Wells and the Cardinals.

Unlike their last two games, I think the Seahawks’ best chance of winning against the Cardinals will be in a higher-scoring affair.  The Cardinals WILL score some points against the Hawks, so the in return, I think the Seahawks need to be looking for some big plays and should look to take some chances on offense.  If they can threaten to get the ball down the field on long passes, they will have a better chance of creating space for their dormant ground game.

Though I’ve cited Tarvaris Jackson, Sidney Rice, and Marshawn Lynch, as keys to the Seahawk offense, their efforts will be for naught if they don’t get much blocking.  The achilles heel of the team so far has been the offensive line, and as I seemingly say in every post, any improvement in that department will increase the likelihood of the Seahawks winning.

This week will be a telling one for Seahawk fans.  A loss would send the Seahawks to a disappointing 0-3 start that would bode serious trouble for any potential playoff hopes.  However, Seattle is just a game out of first place in the NFC West, and a win over division foes Arizona would put the Hawks right back in the thick of things.  Look for a tightly-contested game that might have playoff implications for both teams.

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