Seahawks: Arizona’s defense offers big challenge for Seattle

The Seattle Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night Football this week. Seattle’s season is on the line once again. A loss leaves them three games back with seven left, and no chance to pick up a tiebreaker.

In fact, Football Outsiders says that the Seahawks will have just a 2% chance of winning the division if they lose on Sunday. That jumps to 44% with a Seattle victory.

The Seahawks are three-point favorites. That essentially accounts for home field advantage. That line implies that if the game was at a neutral field, it would be a straight pick-em game.

Arizona’s defense offers a huge challenge for Seattle’s offense. They are by far the best run defense that the Seahawks have faced this season. They have the No. 3 run defense in the NFL by DVOA.

The only defense that is of comparable quality to Arizona’s that Seattle has faced is Carolina. The Panthers have the No. 2 overall defense by DVOA, while Arizona is right behind them at No. 3.

The difference though is that Carolina has the better pass defense, but has only No. 11 run defense. That means that Seattle’s ground attack matches up against Carolina better than it does against Arizona.

Making matters worse for Seattle is that Arizona has the best DVOA in the league against TEs. If there was any thought that Jimmy Graham was going to open things up for Seattle’s offense, think again.

All of that paints a pretty bleak picture for Seattle’s offense, but don’t lose hope.

This is the same Arizona defense that gave up 596 yards in Seattle last season. The Seahawks were without both Max Unger and Russell Okung in that game as well.

Both Luke Willson and Doug Baldwin dominated Arizona’s secondary. Now the Seahawks have Graham and Tyler Lockett to add to the mix. They’ll also have Paul Richardson in uniform for the first time this season.

The Seahawks beat Arizona last season by opening up the passing attack and letting Russell Wilson pick apart Arizona’s secondary. That will likely be the game plan once again here.

If the Seahawks have to lean on the run game, it could be a long night for Seattle’s offense.

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