Good morning. Looks like we’ll get a break in the weather today – it’s supposed to be mostly cloudy with a chance of scattered shows with the temperature around 46 degrees – so dress appropriately.
Here’s my five keys for the Seattle Seahawks as they try and push their record to 6-0 at home against NFC West rival Arizona.
Play with intensity: As 10-point favorites, the No. 1 issue for Seattle will be conjuring up and sustaining enough energy and motivation to defeat an inferior opponent. The fact that Arizona defeated the Seahawks earlier this season should help, along with the Cardinals being a division opponent. The Seahawks can’t afford to be lulled to sleep and play down to the level of competition.
Slow down Fitzgerald: Larry Fitzgerald has totaled 106 receptions for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns in 17 games against Seattle – that’s the most in each category than any other team in the league. So it’s safe to say Seattle’s defense will be aware of Fitzgerald’s location on the field, particularly with Walter Thurmond starting in place of Brandon Browner at cornerback today. Fitzgerald is too good not to get his catches, but the Seahawks have to make sure they are not impactful plays on the outcome of the game.
Get after Skelton: I feel like a broken record mentioning this as a key each week. But the Seahawks have just two sacks in the last two games. Chris Clemons has just one sack in his last six games. Bruce Irvin's last sack was in the New York Jets game in November, and defensive tackle Jason Jones’ last sack was at San Francisco on Oct. 18. The Seahawks totaled just one sack against John Skelton in the season opener, but they did have seven quarterback pressures, and ultimately Brandon Mebane knocked him out of the game. The Seahawks need more of the same type of pressure against a green Arizona offensive line, with the Cardinals starting two rookie tackles in Nate Potter at left tackle and Bobby Massie at right tackle.
Protect Wilson: Ray Horton, defensive coordinator for the Cardinals, likes to bring pressure. The Cardinals sacked Russell Wilson three times in season opener, forcing Wilson to move outside the pocket. So the Seahawks need to have a plan on how they want to deal with Arizona’s blitz package – either with the quick passing game, screens or perhaps a heavy doze of Marshawn Lynch to slow down the Cardinals pass rush.
Contain Peterson: Special teams always plays an important role in an NFL game, and today will be no different. Arizona has one of the best return man in the game in second-year pro Patrick Peterson. And in what is predicted to be a low-scoring affair, points will be at a premium today. So it’s important that Seattle does a good job of containing the explosive Peterson and don’t let him break loose to give a bad Arizona offense good field position.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune writes that Russell Wilson’s last four games is one of the best performances by a Seattle quarterback in the franchise’s history.
Here’s my game advance. While Seattle appears to have found an answer to the team’s search for a long-term solution at quarterback, the Cardinals are still struggling to replace Kurt Warner.
Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times writes that stopping Larry Fitzgerald will be important for the Seahawks today.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com previews the game here.
Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times writes that Sidney Rice has managed to stay healthy this season, and the Seahawks have benefitted from his explosive play-making ability.
Dan Pompei of the National Football Post has a nice breakout on the evolution of the pistol offense in the NFL, and also gives us another reason for Russell Wilson’s improvement – better accuracy on the deep ball for more chunk gains.