The Seattle Seahawks enter Week 9 looking for their fourth straight victory. In doing so, they have the opportunity of burying divisional rival, Arizona Cardinals, in the desert. A win might end the Cardinals hopes for any chance to catch the Seahawks in the NFC West.
With these two teams meeting for the 2nd time in a matter of three weeks, the game plan will remain relatively similar. However, the stakes have changed significantly. The 3-5 Arizona Cardinals seem to be fighting for their life. A loss in Week 9 will make them 0-3 in the division and stick a dagger in their hearts.
Moving forward, Arizona’s schedule certainly does them any favors. They still have to play the 49ers, Rams, Chargers, Falcons, Patriots, Broncos and Buccaneers. Expect them to play with a great sense of urgency against a Seattle team that is flying high.
The margin of error for the Cardinals will be slim as this Seahawks defense has been one of the best over the last three weeks. The defensive turnover has been tremendous given what they put on film in the first month of the season. If they are going to continue this impressive play, they are going to need one member of the backend to step up this weekend.
Seattle Seahawks: The X-Factor who can lead them victory
The biggest difference in this Week 9 matchup will be the ultimate difference maker who was suspended when these two teams first met. Ever since returning from suspension, WR DeAndre Hopkins has given this Arizona offense a spark it desperately needed.
It is no secret that Kyler Murray is a better player when number 10 is on the field with him. Given the phenomenal play from rookie CB Tariq Woolen, I am going to guess that Arizona lines up Hopkins opposite of him. Meaning, Michael Jackson will be daunted with the task of slowing him down.
A man who many did not expect to be CB2 has turned many heads so far. In fact, Michael Jackson is coming off his best performance in Week 8. The Seahawks clearly hold him to a high regard as they just waived CB Sidney Jones. In Week 6, the Seahawks were able to generate great pressure up front. The Cardinals offense failed to score any touchdowns.
Although the pass rush is going to play a role in this one, the play of Michael Jackson will be the determining factor. Based on his tenacious play, he is not going to back down from the challenge of guarding Hopkins. But, it is no easy task. The numbers speak for themselves. DeAndre Hopkins is a game-changer. His presence alone allows for this Arizona offense to open up more freely.
With help coming from over the top, I would implore Jackson to be physical with Hopkins at the line of scrimmage. Do his best to throw him off his timing and give this pass rush an extra second or two to get home on Kyler. The aggression of this Seattle defense has really come to fruition over this three-game winning streak.
They aren’t calling many different blitz packages, but they are making sound tackles and more importantly, not giving up any big plays down the field. The impressive play from the backend has resulted in more coverage sacks. Entering the year, Seattle’s defense looked really fast and physical on paper. It has been exciting to see that come to light on Sundays. Also, how cool is it that we have two guys in the secondary named Michael Jackson and Coby Bryant? I love it.