After several days of good weather it’s pretty gloomy out there this morning, with rain and winds up to 25 mph in the forecast. So weather could play a role today.
Here are five things to look for this afternoon when the Seattle Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals in the team’s home opener.
It all starts up front: With Paul McQuistan getting his first start, along with rookie John Moffitt and James Carpenter still learning up front, Seattle’s offensive line will be tested by Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell and Dan Williams up front, and they need to both get a push in the run game and be stout in pass protection so Seattle can get things going offensively.
Get Rice the ball: It’s pretty simple. Sidney Rice is Seattle’s best player on offense, and the Cardinals are starting two very athletic, but pretty green guys at cornerback in second-year pro A.J. Jefferson and rookie Patrick Peterson. Get Rice involved early and get those guys on their heels. Seattle’s offense needs to switch to attack mode this week and start dictating tempo.
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Where’s the pass rush? Seattle has just two sacks on the year, and they both came against Pittsburgh last week, so they need to use the home crowd to their advantage and get off the ball quickly. In particular, this game sets up well for defensive end Chris Clemons. Seattle’s sacks leader a year ago only has one in two games this year. But in his past two starts against the Cardinals, Clemons has three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Find Fitzgerald: Arizona’s elite receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes this offense go. The Cardinals will move him all over the place, so the Seahawks need to know where he is at all times and not let him get loose in the secondary for big gains. Fitzgerald has the most receptions against Seattle than any other team in the league, with 88 catches for 1,158 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games, an average of 82.7 yards per contest.
Special teams needs big play: Whether it’s a long return by Leon Washington to flip field position, a punt by Jon Ryan that pins Arizona deep in their territory, or a forced fumble that gives Seattle’s offense a short field to score, the Seahawks’ special teams needs to be a strength today, not a liability like they were against San Francisco in the regular-season opener. Dave Boling of The News Tribune talks to former Seahawks offensive tackle Ray Roberts, who shares his thoughts about the struggles he went through as a first round pick with the team in 1992 – similar to what James Carpenter is dealing with in his rookie season.
The Seahawks will see a 3-4 defensive front for the third straight week. Expect a similar style of defense with Tacoma native Ray Horton, who cut his teeth under legendary Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, now serving as Arizona’s defensive coordinator.
Christian Caple of Seattlepi.com offers five things to watch for in today’s game.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald sees this game as an important one for Seattle to get at home, especially considering the team's next three games – Atlanta at home, and the N.Y. Giants and Cleveland on the road.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks need some home-field magic to get things turned around.
Dan Pompei of the National Football Post writes that although Tarvaris Jackson might not win as many games as Matt Hasselbeck could have, one of the reasons Seattle did pay Hasselbeck to stay is they were concerned about his ability to play a full season, and believed Jackson’s durability was key. So far that has proven true – Jackson has been sacked 10 times and hit 16 times, but is still standing.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes the Cardinals are out to prove they are contenders, not pretenders, in the NFC West title hunt.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals want to make their own noise at CenturyLink Field.