Tale Of The Tape: Seattle Seahawks At Arizona Cardinals
- QuarterbackThe Seahawks are not difficult to figure out, but they are quite difficult to defend even though they are transparent. They are a strong, physical team that is going to try to run over opposing defenses and the ability of Russell Wilson to see defensive weak spots is crucial. He is a talented passer and runner, but his greatest strength is his sense of timing.Carson Palmer was once thought of as a gamebreaking quarterback who combined arm strength and accuracy to make big throws consistently. Those days are long over. Head coach Bruce Arians needs Palmer to maintain possession of the ball and avoid turnovers. While he has struggled in that area, he has shown he has some talent at making key throws in the fourth quarter of close games.
- OffenseMarshawn Lynch helps set the tone for the Seahawks offense when he can get into the second level and run over a linebacker or defensive backs. The Seattle offensive is big, physical and mean. Sidney Rice is a deep threat who can provide a sudden change of field position or on the scoreboard. Golden Tate is a tough-minded receiver who can make key plays on third down.The Cardinals struggle to move the ball on the ground and much of that is due to Rashard Mendenhall’s surprising lack of power. If they could get just a bit more out of the running game, it would make life easier for Larry Fitzgerald, who has not been dominant this year. Michael Floyd has shown the ability to catch the ball in stride and make big plays.
- DefenseThe Seahawks are going to try to set the tone early with their physical defensive play. While they are not as aggressive on the road as they are at home, look for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to set the tone against the run. Cornerback Richard Sherman is the leader of their active and skilled secondary.Playing against the Seahawks represents a major challenge for the Cardinals, particularly because it comes on the heels of a tough game against San Francisco. If the Cardinals are going to have a chance in this game, middle linebacker Karlos Dansby must slow down Lynch and Patrick Peterson must have an excellent game in the secondary.
- Special TeamsThe Seahawks' special teams rank near the best in the league. Golden Tate is tough to bring down returning punts and kickoffs. Steven Hauschka has one of the most consistent legs on his FG attempts, while punter Jon Ryan is quite adept at preventing big returns because of the height he gets on his kicks.The Cardinals do a decent job on special teams, but they are not quite as effective as the Seahawks. Peterson has the speed to turn a punt return into a big play and he can be a major threat in the fourth quarter of a close game. Jay Feely is a dependable field goal kicker with a long record of NFL success.
The Seahawks would seem to be the better team by a wide margin and this has the look of an easy game. However, nothing should be taken for granted when a team goes on the road against a hungry divisional opponent. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor