Week 7 (10/13): Seahawks at Cardinals

Tonight’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona looks like it could be an easy win for the Seahawks, but it also just might be the hardest they’ll have to work for an easy win they’ll have all season (in NFL betting terms, I’d bet on the Hawks to win, but not necessarily to cover)

First, the good news: Arizona’s offense blows.  In the passing game, Larry Fitzgerald is still a superhuman living highlight reel and opposite him Michael Floyd is finally starting to produce in his second NFL season, but that’s about the extent of the good news for the Cardinals – or to put it in NFL betting terms, I’d bet on the Seahawks winning.  The Card's quarterback is Carson Palmer, a strong-armed but immobile stopgap measure who currently boasts the fourth highest interception rate in the league (4.98%), and he has to stand behind an offensive line that has all the protective power of a raincoat made of tissue paper (13 sacks & 34 QB hits allowed).  Granted, stopping Fitzgerald is difficult regardless of who is throwing to him, but if Sherman and the rest of the secondary can slow him down even a little then the Seahawks’ impressive collection of pass rushers should be able to tee off on Palmer all game long.

On the ground, the Cardinals have been relying on ex-Steeler Rashard Mendenhall to carry most of the workload, and he’s responded by producing an anemic 3.28 yards per carry (good for 31st in the league).  Meanwhile, backup Andre Ellington has averaged 7.72 ypc in limited action, and I have no idea why he isn’t being utilized for more than 4-7 carries a game.  But hey, Arizona’s questionable decision making is Seattle’s gain, right?

The Cardinals’ defense, on the other hand, presents a strength-versus-strength matchup with the Seahawks’ offense.  Lynch’s power running and Wilson’s scrambles have combined to give the Hawks one of the best rushing attacks in the league with glowing averages of 4.59 yards per carry (5th in the NFL) and 157.67 yards per game (2nd).  Tonight, however, they go up against one of the best run defenses in the league; through six games, Arizona has allowed opponents to gain just 3.46 yards per carry (5th) and 90.67 yards per game (5th).  DE Calais Campbell may not play (he’s questionable for the game), but NT Dan Williams, DE Darnell Dockett, and ILB Karlos Dansby will still be on hand to make life miserable for the Hawks’ banged up o-line.

The Cardinals’ pass defense has produced a few uneven performances and fourth quarter collapses, but I think they’re better than their stats make them out to be.  CB Patrick Peterson is the biggest coverage threat on the team, with 3 interceptions and 8 passes defended already this season, but S Yeremiah Bell (1 int, 5 pd) and CB Jerraud Powers (6 pd) are pretty good, too, plus Dansby has been quite disruptive in the middle of the field (1 int, 8 pd).  The Hawks’ receivers will have their hands full getting separation in this one, and unfortunately that’s something they’ve been struggling to do already, but the return of Zach Miller to the starting lineup should help considerably.

Arizona’s pass rush is comprised of four different threats: Dockett and Campbell on the outside, and Dansby and fellow interior linebacker Daryl Washington on the inside.  Together, they’ve combined for 12 of the Cardinals’ 16 sacks this year, and once again Wilson is going to have to use his legs to make up for the subpar pass blocking he’s been getting as of late.

There’s also the effect of playing a road game on a short week to consider, and University of Phoenix stadium isn’t exactly the friendliest environment for the Hawks, but it’s been a short week for the Cardinals, too.  Bottom line, I think Arizona’s offense is too unreliable to pull off a win against this Seahawks team, but their defense is good enough to keep things close, but I don’t know that I’d bet on them beating the spread and I definitely wouldn’t bet the over (fair warning, I am terrible at gambling).