The Arizona Cardinals have had their way with the NFC West so far this season but they could facing the Seattle Seahawks at the worst possible time. So far this season the Hawks have had to start their #2 and #3 quarterback due to injuries and they've had to shuffle their receiving corps just to get enough healthy guys on the field. The injuries and overall poor play have led to a 2-7 record for the Seahawks, with both their wins coming against similar 2-7 teams. The Hawks might finally look like the team that broke camp this week when Matt Hasselbeck and Deion Branch return to the field. Will their probable return be enough to beat the Cardinals?
Seattle Seahawks - Game Averages
|Off||18.9||255.5 (30th)||141.3 (31st)||114.3 (13th)|
|Def||26.2||373.5 (27th-T)||258.0 (31st)||115.5 (22nd)|
Offense: The Hawks have been able to move the ball on the ground surprisingly well considering the struggles they've had in the passing game. They rank 13th in the league in rushing yards per game but they should be even better with the return of their starting quarterback. Julius Jones was averaging 93 yards per game for the first four games but since Hasselbeck went down, Jones has managed just 45 yards per game. The real boost for the offense though will having a real quarterback to throw the ball. Seneca Wallace and Charlie Frye struggled through five games completing just over 52% of their passes for 150 yards per game. Hasselbeck wasn't much better in the first four games but he's healthy now and will have his best receiver back on the field. Deion Branch has only played in one game this year but he's an upgrade over Bobby Engram, Courtney Talyor and Koren Robinson
(current starters). The pass catcher that the Cardinals should reallly worry about though is rookie tight end John Carlson. He's the Hawks leading receiver despite missing a game earlier in the year. He's not a 'stretch the field' tight end but he does have a knack for getting open and making tough catches. The Cardinals have struggled against tight ends this season (ranking 25th) and it'll likely be up to Adrian Wilson and Karlos Dansby to keep Carlson from having a big game. Another big key for the Cardinals will be putting pressure on Hasselbeck. It'll be his first playing time in a month and making him move in the pocket will be huge.
Defense: The Seattle defense has been surprisingly bad this year but they haven't had the same excuses as the offense. They've been relatively healthy, outside of Patrick Kerney, but they're allowing 50 more yards than last season (321.8 to 373.5) and allowing seven points more per game (18.2 to 26.2). The big falloff for the defense has been in the secondary where they went from middle of the road last year to bottom of the barrel this year. That's pretty surprising considering the personnel in the secondary hasn't changed at all. Much of the blame for the secondary has been placed on their future head coach, Jim Mora Jr. The Hawks are still pretty good at getting to the quarterback though, ranking 8th, but they'll certainly miss Patrick Kerney, who's already been ruled out. If the Seahawks can't put pressure on Warner it could be a long day for the secondary and this defense as a whole. If KW can get the passing game going early, this is the type of game that Tim Hightower could also get rolling.
We'll certainly keep a close eye on the injury reports over the next couple of days but assuming that Hasselbeck and Branch play, do the Seahawks pose a legit threat? Can the Seahawks secondary slow down the Cardinals' passing game?