Coming off a one point loss that could have and probably should have been a lot wider the Arizona Cardinals will be wanting to bounce back from a poor showing on both sides of the football and come out of a tough road trip to the Pacific Northwest with a W. To do that they will have to get past the Seattle Seahawks in their first home game of the season backed by a vociferous crowd, likely disgusted at the product their team has left of on the field the past two weeks. Expectations will be high on both ends, the Cardinals expecting to beat an 0-2 Seattle team that has looked horrible, and the Hawks wanting to get their season started with a win over the Cardinals whom they swept last season.
1 - Cardinals defense vs Execution - Over the first two weeks of the 2011 seasons there have been more mental errors from the Cardinals defense than one can count, and it has hurt them badly. Missed assignments leading to big touchdown plays and drive saving completions will need to be cut out if the Cardinals want to come out of this game without egg on their face. Currently the Seahawks sit 28th in passing yards per game (144) and 32nd in rushing yards per game (47.5), a total of less than 200 yards per game. A simple game plan should be on the cards, one that forces the Hawks to make plays not allowing them to take advantage of mistakes by the Cardinals. If the Cardinals defense executes as it should this game could be a blowout with the Hawks struggling to improve their current 8.5 PPG number.
2 - Joey Porter vs Russell Okung - Joey Porter is almost at last chance saloon. He has struggled to put any pressure on the Quarterback over the first two weeks of the season, and with the younger, more athletic and more productive O'Brien Schofield waiting in the wings there is likely not going to be a much better chance for Porter to produce. The Seahawks have allowed 10 sacks through two games, good for second worst in the league (Chicago Bears - 11) and Okung has not yet lived up to his billing as a franchise tackle. Pressure on the quarterback is a sure-fire way to get an unconvincing QB to convince even less people, Porter needs to play well or his time in the NFL could be coming to an abrupt end.
3 - Darnell Dockett and Clark Haggans vs John Moffitt and James Carpenter - In a classic experience vs youth competition on the right hand side of the Seahawks offense the Cardinals should be expecting a lot of production from Haggans who has been their most impressive front seven player through two games, and the fiery Dockett who has been the target of two blockers more often than not early this season. The two rookies have combined to allow 2.5 sacks and numerous pressures over the past two weeks and the veteran duo will need to keep their game up if they want to allow their secondary to play to their potential.
4 - Andre Roberts vs Brandon Browner - It is obvious that Larry Fitzgerald is going to be the center of attention for the Seahawks secondary, so it is on Andre Roberts and to a lesser extent Early Doucet to take advantage of the single coverage they will see a lot of the game. Browner was beaten badly for most of the game last week by Mike Wallace as he put up 8 grabs, 126 yards and a TD. It is unlikely that Roberts put up that kind of a game, but if he can take advantage of a 1 v 1 matchup that forces the Hawks to pay more attention to him it will open the field up for Larry Fitzgerald to take advantage.
5 - Beanie Wells vs Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant - Beanie Wells is off the an incredibly hot start to the 2011 season, going very close to back to back 100 yard games though not quite reaching the triple figure mark in either of them and maintaining a 5.7 YPC average. The fans are calling for Beanie to get the rock more; Kolb has said they need to run the ball more and even Ken Whisenhunt has admitted that they need to get Beanie more and more involved on the ground. However the Hawks are allowing just 3.1 YPC so far this season and the interior duo of Mebane and Bryant will provide a very stern test for the Cardinals interior OL who has been playing tremendous football early on this season. If he gets the carries Beanie could have a big game, but I get the feeling that with a secondary ripe for the picking if Beanie cannot impose himself early we are going to be seeing a lot of Kevin Kolb.
Essentially we have a team that is beating themselves with miscommunications and penalties on the defensive side of the ball and redzone struggles on the offensive side of the ball (Three drives into the redzone this season with Arizona coming away with 0 points) against a team that is struggling to get anything going because of a lack of talent. The Cardinals should win the game easily, but a divisional game is never going to be simple and it could swing the other way if the Cardinals continue their trend of costly mental errors.