Seahawks Insider Blog

Key to Sunday: How Seahawks handle Cardinals blitzing every Arizonan short of John McCain

My sense is Alvin Bailey is going to start at left guard for James Carpenter tomorrow for the Seahawks against Arizona -- partly because Carpenter didn't practice this week, and largely because Bailey, the undrafted free agent last year out of Arkansas, has played well in the two games since Carpenter sprained his ankle.

This -- and the decision whether to start Lemuel Jeanpierre five days after Seattle signed injured Max Unger's backup the previous three seasons off the street or to stay with fourth-stringer Patrick Lewis at center -- are big to the Seahawks' quest to get to within two games of Arizona in the NFC West with five games remaining after tomorrow. Cards defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is going to send every Arizonan short of John McCain at Seattle's offensive line; the Seahawks have had problems in pass protection for the last two seasons. Arizona blitzes on run downs, on passing downs, from up the middle, off the edge, with linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties ... you get the idea.

"We’re going to be challenged to pick up the pressure. This is a big blitzing team and we need to do a good job of handling it," said Carroll, who wouldn't reveal who would start at center and called Carpenter's status a game-time decision. "Hopefully we can get the ball out the way we want to and get the one-on-ones matched up the way we want to.

"We will see how that goes. They’ve been playing everybody really well and we’re going to see if we can change that."

Yet as much as the Cardinals blitz they have just 18 sacks in 398 opponent drop backs. As much as we've harped on the Seahawks' not getting many sacks this season, Arizona is just 27th in the NFL in sacks per opponent pass play (Seattle is 29th). And the Cardinals are 29th in pass defense, allowing 263 yards per games through the air. That shows the risk of allowing big plays if all this blitzing doesn't bring down the quarterback.

The biggest passing numbers against Arizona have come from quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles. The Cardinals haven't faced a passer this season as elusive and creative out of the pocket as Russell Wilson.

How well Wilson and the Seahawks -- with whomever they start up front -- handle the Cardinals' blitz will largely determine the outcome of Seattle's must-win game at CenturyLink Field tomorrow.

--For what it may (or may not) be worth, here's how I see this weekend's games (starting with the TV games that will be shown in the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett market). I'll save the Seahawks-Cardinals pick for tomorrow.

Enjoy your weekend.

Cincinnati at Houston, 10 a.m. Sunday, Channel 7

Why not put J.J. Watt at quarterback, too? Dynamic DE does everything else for the Texans.

Texans 20, Bengals 16                                        


Dallas at New York Giants, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Channel 5

Cowboys have won last three in NFC East rivalry, including last two in New Jersey. Make it four in row, three in the Meadowlands.

Cowboys 31, Giants 23


Baltimore at New Orleans, 5:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN

The Saints’ march to win the NFC South, which isn’t saying much, resumes here over the very mediocre Ravens.

Saints 34, Ravens 20


N.Y. Jets at Buffalo

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Bills 16, Jets 10

Cleveland at Atlanta

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Falcons 23, Browns 21


Tampa Bay at Chicago

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Bears 17, Buccaneers 16


Detroit at New England

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Patriots 20, Lions 10


Green Bay at Minnesota

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Packers 34, Vikings 21

Jacksonville at Indianapolis

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Colts 37, Jaguars 17

Tennessee at Philadelphia

10 a.m. Sunday

Pick: Eagles 31, Titans 13

St. Louis at San Diego

1:05 p.m. Sunday

Pick: Chargers 17, Rams 14

Miami at Denver

1:25 p.m. Sunday

Pick: Broncos 35, Dolphins 20

Washington at San Francisco

1:25 p.m. Sunday

Pick: 49ers 23, Redskins 7