I think the Seahawks can win this afternoon.
Maybe it is blind optimism from a homer, desperate for a victory after suffering a crushing loss the night before – the Huskies gave up a fifty-yard pass with seconds to go and found a way to lose in Tempe.
Maybe the optimism stems from last week’s 41-0 victory over the Jaguars. The Seahawks are still at Qwest Field, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be in the lineup again.
Or maybe I’m optimistic because of the importance of this particular game, refusing to concede defeat. Especially against a division rival who has been less than spectacular since last year’s Super Bowl appearance.
The Seahawks are 2-3 and have a bye next week. If they can find a way to win today, they’ll be at .500 and should return several starters, including Marcus Trufant, Rob Sims, and Leroy Hill. Better yet, the division leader is only 3-2 and coming off a devastating loss at home against the Falcons.
If the Seahawks win today, they’ll have a great opportunity to jump back in the race for the NFC West. After starting the season 1-3 and having so many players injured, Seattle didn’t have much business talking playoffs.
But even after a poor start, re-taking the NFC West crown isn’t out of the question in such a weak division.
If the Seahawks lose today, however, they’ll be two games under .500 headed into the bye week. And with a matchup in Dallas following the break, things could get much worse before they get any better. The 49ers, already with one win against the Seahawks, and Cardinals would probably be in a two-team race for the NFC West title.
The win against Jacksonville last week was important as well, but this game is against a division rival and a victory would affirm the belief that Seattle can win the NFC West with a healthy roster on the field.
Here are the keys to victory against the Arizona Cardinals:
Pressure Kurt Warner
Everyone knows the key to stopping the Cardinals is to never allow Warner to feel comfortable in the pocket. In Arizona’s two losses, opponents averaged 3.5 sacks and 9 quarterback pressures. In their two wins, opponents averaged only 0.5 sacks and 1 pressure.
The Seahawks have to pressure Warner early and often. The defensive line has to be able to get in his face without help from blitzers. Warner has a unique ability to stay in the pocket and find open receivers, but if the Seahawks can disrupt his timing and force him to second-guess his protection, the Cardinals should slow a bit offensively.
The Seahawks must be opportunistic and make big plays against the Arizona Cardinals. Turnovers will not only help sway the game in their favor, but they’ll also get the Qwest Field crowd going. Interceptions cannot be dropped, loose balls must be recovered, and big plays must be achieved.
The Seahawks must do whatever they can to keep the explosive Arizona offense off the field.
No big plays
In Arizona’s two wins this season, the defense and special teams scored touchdowns that immediately changed momentum and the outcome of the game.
Against Jacksonville in week two, Antrel Rolle returned a blocked field goal 83 yards for a touchdown. That changed a 10-3 game to a two-score deficit, and the rout was on.
Last week against the Texans, the Cardinals were tied with just over two minutes left in the game. The Texans were driving until Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie jumped a route and returned an interception 49 yards to secure the victory.
To keep things short, the Seahawks cannot afford to make similar mistakes at home against the Cardinals. Don’t let them make big plays on defense or special teams that could affect the outcome of the game.
Arizona 21, Seattle 30
Seattle finds a way to win a crucial game at home. The Cardinals score early, but the Seahawks are able to limit their explosive offense in the second half. The Seahawks put enough points on the board to win as the offense rolls with Matt Hasselbeck under center.