Seahawks vs Cardinals keys to the game


The Seattle Seahawks travel to play the Arizona Cardinals in both teams regular season finale. Both teams have potential seeding to play for and both are guaranteed playoff spots. Although long term this game may not mean a whole lot besides playoff seeding, both teams ideally have things they want to see before heading into the playoffs. Here are the keys to the game for both teams.

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Seattle Seahawks

1: Successfully establish the run game vs the Cardinals. If we have learned anything during this Seahawks tenure with Pete Carroll, it’s that he’ll run into a brick wall believing it has long term ramifications in the game. So choosing not to run is not an option, it’s rather actually succeeding at it after the Rams got after the Seahawks offensive line and blew up tons of run plays for losses.

2: Start fast. Nothing says “get ready to pack it in for the playoffs” like falling behind 19-0 like they did to the Cardinals in Seattle. If the Seahawks want to use this as a game to build confidence for the playoffs, a fast start would be a huge assistance since the Cardinals have an explosive offense and can get you out of your comfort zone quickly if you struggle early on in the game.

3: Protect Russell Wilson. Ultimately, this game is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The Seahawks are guaranteed a playoff berth. The Seahawks cannot afford for Russell Wilson to get dinged up again like he did vs the Rams, showing what I considered to be the biggest limp of his NFL career after a hit to his knee.

Winning this game is not as important as having Russell for the playoffs. Do whatever you can to protect Wilson, even if that means hiding some plays you want to use on them. You never know if you’ll face them again in the playoffs.

4: Pressure Carson Palmer. The Cardinals love to take a lot of deep shots on offense, which can pay huge dividends for them and their opponent as well. What do I mean by that? The Seahawks got two fumbles off Carson Palmer and actually took the lead on one of the fumbles they scored a touchdown off of.

When a team loves to use deep drops, it opens up the potential for sacks/fumbles. Carson has done a good job most the year moving around in the pocket and just making the pressure miss him. If Seattle wants to send a statement, you’ve got to pressure him and FINISH.

5: Let the Doug Baldwin show continue. Doug Baldwin is having a career year and Russell Wilson is as well in large part to their dynamic connection that yet again continued last week. Baldwin had 8 catches, 118 yards and a touchdown as his career year continued vs the Rams. Baldwin also put up over 100+ yards and a TD in the first matchup vs AZ. For Seattle to pull off this upset, the dynamic connection between short QB and short WR must continue.

Arizona Cardinals

1: Life without Tyrann Mathieu vs the Seahawks begins, who steps up? The Cardinals win without Mathieu vs the Packers was impressive, but right now the Seahawks are on a different level than the Packers. Tyrann Mathieu has been a huge pain to the Seahawks as he is to most NFL teams.

How do they mask the loss of Mathieu vs Seattle? Can Deone Bucannon emulate Mathieu’s role to mask his absence? Or will it become a problem vs one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL in the Seahawks?

2: Goodbye Cary Williams, hello DeShawn Shead. Same outcome? The Cardinals had the luxury of having Cary Williams at CB opposite of Sherman and now that is Shead. The Cardinals offense is so explosive that it might not even matter.

That will be a test for Cardinals and perhaps information they are really intrigued to find out. Can they exploit Shead vs their offense the way they could Cary Williams? If they can, it could prove to pay dividends if they meet Seattle in the playoffs.

3: Get after Russell Wilson. The Cardinals had a large part in making Russell Wilson have his worst game of the season with under a 50% completion percentage. The Seahawks offensive line has shown growth since that game until last week vs the Rams.

Was last weeks performance a fluke or does the NFC West still know how to disrupt Seattle’s offensive line? If the Cardinals can pressure Russell Wilson and force bad decisions or sack him like the Rams were able to, they might feel they are Seattle’s kryptonite.

4: Is David Johnson playoff ready? David Johnson has had a good rookie year, averaging just about 5 yards a carry. He didn’t have a carry vs the Seahawks in the first matchup. Chris Johnson is gone and David Johnson has received most of the workload since.

Although he will share with Andre Ellington, he could prove a valuable piece of a 1-2 punch vs the Seahawks and going forward. One of the Cardinals lesser known strengths has been their ability to run the ball this year, which makes it absolutely hard on a defense to defend vs deep passes and vs the run all in the same play. Play action will bite you if you can’t stop the run.

5: Play your ball, defend “The Nest” and hope the Panthers lose. Truthfully, the Cardinals have more to play for in this game than the Seahawks do. The Seahawks are on the road no matter what, it’s just a matter of where are they going to play.

The Cardinals still have an outside shot at the #1 seed if the Cardinals win and the Panthers lose. That alone means they have more to play for. If the Cardinals play their style of ball to the level they have lately, they could find themselves the #1 seed by the time the weekend is over.

Next: Seahawks vs Cardinal, 3 players to watch

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