The Seahawks will look to get back on track when they travel to play the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. This NFC West divisional matchup could be a major factor in who wins the division at the end of the season, with both teams currently trailing the Los Angeles Rams. The last time these two teams played was on Christmas Eve in 2016, and the Cardinals traveled to Seattle and won 34-31. Last year’s game at University of Phoenix Stadium ended in a 6-6 tie.
The Cardinals have had to change their offensive identity because of injuries. They lost star running back David Johnson in their Week 1 game because of a dislocated wrist, and then they lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer because of a broken arm. Backup Drew Stanton is playing in place of Palmer, and Arizona traded for Adrian Peterson after struggling to replace Johnson.
Last Sunday against the 49ers, Arizona relied on Peterson to carry their offense, and he did just that. He ran for 159 yards on 37 carries and wore down the San Francisco defense. In three games with the Cardinals, Peterson has run the ball 74 times for 314 yards and two touchdowns. He has seen a rebirth in Arizona, and could be in for another large workload against Seattle.
The Seattle defense has been strong against the run recently after being one of the worst rushing defenses early in the season. In Seattle’s last three games, they have only given up 79.7 rushing yards per game. If Peterson cannot get going, the Arizona offense could be in trouble relying on Stanton to make plays.
Stanton has struggled since replacing Palmer, completing 20 of his 44 passes for 267 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. When Stanton is in the game, he is the ultimate game manager, with Arizona relying on their ground game to be their offense.
Stanton will likely not have much success against the Seattle secondary, who have only given up 213.1 passing yards per game. Last week, Kirk Cousins did not have much success against Seattle until the final drive. Earl Thomas is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, but Seattle may not rush him back with Seattle playing on short rest.
The Cardinals have had one of the worst defenses in the league in 2017, giving up 349.8 yards per game. They have also given up the ninth most points (201) in the league. In four of their eight games, the Cardinals have given up 30 more points. They have given up 400 or more yards in three games, and have given up at least 300 yards in six games.
There are big names in this defense, but have been unable to make the talent mesh. Outside linebacker Chandler Jones has been the best player on this defense, racking up nine sacks this season, which is the fourth highest in the league. But even with one of the best pass rushers this season, the Cardinals have struggled stopping the pass. In their last three games, Arizona has given up the fourth most passing yards per game (279.3).
Seattle has thrived on throwing the ball because of the nonexistent rushing offense. Russell Wilson has put up MVP type numbers, and has been the sole reason the Seahawks are 5-3 this season. If Wilson has a bad game, there is no one else on the offense that can shoulder the load and score points, as was the case against the Redskins.
As the season goes on, it seems that Wilson is going to lead the team in rushing. Arizona has been solid against the run, and the Seattle running backs have shown that no matter who they play, they are unable to provide much running the ball. Wilson will need to have another solid game throwing the ball if Seattle wants to win this game.
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