When the Seattle Seahawks came to Glendale in Week 7 and defeated the Arizona Cardinals 34-22, it was during a part of the season in which the Arizona offense was still very much a work in progress. There were still many missed routes and turnovers, and the running game had not yet come around.
In the game against the Seahawks, Arizona turned the ball over twice and managed to run the ball only 30 yards.
Carson Palmer had two interceptions to go with only one touchdown pass. He was sacked seven times.
Those offensive struggles seem a long time ago. That is because not long after that game things turned around.
Since that game, the Cardinals have gone 6-1 and the offense is very effective. They have averaged 110 rushing yards per game. Carson Palmer has thrown four picks in seven games, and in every single one of those games he has more touchdowns than interceptions.
Andre Ellington has been putting up historical numbers for a rookie season. Mendenhall, who against Seattle the first time still did not look good running, has been running with power and with a burst.
The question is whether the offense can sustain this level of play. On paper, they have not played great teams. Seattle's defense is formidable.
However, if Arizona can run the ball with some effectiveness, this should be a completely different game.
Mendenhall is healthy and Ellington has had big play after big play.
When the two teams played the last time, Arizona could do nothing in the running game, making them very predictable. Will that be the same case on Sunday? Seattle can be run upon. St. Louis gained 200 yards on the ground. Tampa Bay has 205 against the Seahawks. The Vikings put up 132, while the 49ers gained 163. Those four games are in the seven since they last played the Cardinals.
If Mendenhall can soften the middle of the defense and if Ellington gets the touches he should, this game should look nothing like the Week 7 matchup. If the offense looks more like what happened in Week 7, then we know that there has not been as much progress as we think. If what the last two months is more the norm, this game has the potential to be one of the best of the day.
Can the do it? It won't be long until we find out.