seahawks

NFC West Showdown — Seahawks Host The Cardinals Week 10

Key Game For Seahawks Coming Off Bye

Following a bye week, the Seattle Seahawks will be looking for their third win in a row as they host the NFC West division leading Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.

At 4-4, the Seahawks need this win at home against the Cardinals who lead the Seahawks by two games in the standings if they are to have any chance at another divisional crown.  It won’t be easy however as the Cardinals are playing some of the best football we’ve seen from them in a very long time.

Here’s what I’ll be watching for at the Seahawks try to get the second half of their season off on the right foot.

For the Seahawks' offense to improve, Wilson needs to improve. (Photo: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

For the Seahawks’ offense to improve, Wilson needs to improve. (Photo: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

Russell Wilson

The Seahawks need QB Russell Wilson to be better than he was in the first half.  Stats-wise, Wilson is completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 1,878 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Wilson has thrown three picks in his last two games.  It’s the interception that are most concerning out of all of these numbers.

Wilson threw a total of seven picks in all of 2014.  He’s thrown six in eight games thus far in 2015.  Sure, you can argue that a few have not been his fault but the same can be said every year.

Where Wilson has struggled with interceptions is in blitz situations.  He’s not done as good of job this year at reading and reacting to the blitz.  The result of that has been picks and sacks… lots of sacks.

Wilson has been sacked 31 times, the most of any NFL QB this year.  That number is despite of the fact that he was not sacked at all last week against Dallas.  Again, you can argue some of these numbers are the result of a beleaguered offensive line but many are also on Wilson.

Wilson has always had a tendency to hold the ball too long, likely because for most of his life his great elusiveness and athleticism has allowed him to scramble so well, extending plays.  In the NFL, he’s proved he can still do that, but clearly he can’t scramble for as long as he has at other levels.

Against a hardened Arizona defense Wilson has to be nearly perfect.  The Seahawks need him to just throw the ball away when the situation dictates it and not force throws or take unnecessary hits and sacks.  As Wilson finds success, so will the rest of the guys on offense including Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, and Tyler Lockette.

Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom must put a stop to Carson Palmer on Sunday (Photo: Steven Bisig/USA TODAY).

Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom must put a stop to Carson Palmer on Sunday (Photo: Steven Bisig/USA TODAY).

The Seahawks Defensive Swagger

It feels like the Seattle defense has found their identity again.  They are playing like they have the last two seasons and the energy just looks better on the field.

The numbers say Seattle is allowing 17.5 points and 284.9 yards per game. K.J. Wright leads the Seahawks with 58 tackles, Michael Bennett has 6.5 sacks and Richard Sherman has seven pass deflections.

For a victory over the Cardinals, the Seahawks defense is going to have to disrupt Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense that is capable of very quick scores.  Guys like Sherman and Bennett are going to have to be the ones that cause those problems for the Cardinals passing attack.

Settling For Three

The area of most concern for the Seahawks has to be in the Red Zone and that’s true whether you are talking about the Seahawks’ offense or their defense.

When Arizona gets inside their opponent’s 20 yard line, they score a touchdown nearly 66% of the time.  That’s good enough to rank them as fourth best in the NFL in Red Zone TD efficiency.

The Cardinals could not stop Bennett last year. The Seahawks need a similar performance.

The Cardinals could not stop Bennett last year. The Seahawks need a similar performance.

The Seahawks, are the exact opposite.  Seattle has only come up with a TD when inside the 20 on 29% of their opportunities in 2015.  That ranks the Seahawks dead last in the NFL in Red Zone TD efficiency.

To put in bluntly, those numbers scare me and it gets worse– At home, the Seahawks are only coming up with a TD in the Red Zone on 16% of their chances.

The Red Zone is where this game will be won or lost.  For the Seahawks to win, they have to get into the end zone on every one of their Red Zone chances.  Defensively, they have to force the Cardinals to settle for three in those same situation.   It’s just that simple.

Prediction

The Seahawks appear more focused, energized, and hungry than we have seen all season.  I say the Seahawks score just enough and hold the Cardinals down just enough to squeak out a victory.

The Seahawks will win 24-23.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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