Russell Wilson threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Seahawks to a big 34-22 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday Night Football.
The Seahawks are now 6-1 for the first time in the history of the franchise.
Seattle opened up a quick 7-0 lead in the first quarter as Russell Wilson led his offense 83 yards in just five plays. He concluded the drive by throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice.
On their next possession, which didn’t come until the second quarter, Seattle extended the lead to 14-0 when Wilson hit Zach Miller for a 15-yard touchdown. Miller was one of Wilson’s favorite targets of the night and finished the game with five catches for 40 yards.
The Cardinals answered with a 49-yard field goal from Jay Feely that made it a 14-3 affair. He would finish the night 3-for-3 in field goal attempts.
When Seattle got the ball back, Wilson fumbled the ball deep in his own territory, allowing Arizona’s offense back on the field 25 seconds after they had jogged off of it. Rashard Mendenhall ran it in from three yards out for his third touchdown of the year to narrow the margin to 14-10.
For the second consecutive week, a bad fumble led to the other team scoring a touchdown and making it a game right before the half. It was the first of three fumbles in the game from Wilson, two of which he lost.
The Seahawks did, however, manage to move the ball 47 yards on their last possession of the half, allowing Steven Hauschka to nail a 51-yard field goal and give Seattle a 17-10 lead entering the intermission.
In the third quarter, Feely sank a 52-yard field goal to make it a 17-13 game, but it was the closest Arizona would get for the rest of the night.
The Seahawks scored two touchdowns in the third. Wilson threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this one to Kellen Davis, and Marshawn Lynch ran in another to make it a 31-13 game at the end of the third quarter.
Lynch finished the game with 91 yards on the ground and the touchdown.
In the fourth, both teams kickers hit a field goal to increase the score to 34-16. Hauschka finished the evening 2-for-2 and has now hit 16 of his 17 field goal attempts this season.
Carson Palmer, who won the Heisman Trophy at USC under Pete Carroll in 2002, didn’t throw his first touchdown until the fourth quarter. He hit Jaron Brown in the back of the end zone to narrow the Seahawks lead to 34-22, which would ultimately be the last score of the game.
Seattle’s defense wreaked havoc on the Cardinals for the majority of the game. The secondary forced Palmer to go 30 of 45 for 258 yards and two interceptions, one courtesy of Earl Thomas, the other from Brandon Browner.
The defensive line sacked Palmer seven times and allowed just 30 rushing yards. Malcolm Smith led Seattle’s defense with eight tackles and a sack.
Golden Tate returned a punt for a touchdown in the game, but it was nullified because of a Seattle penalty. He led Seattle’s receivers with 77 yards on four catches.
The Seahawks have an 11-day gap until their next game. They will be in St. Louis on Monday Night Football in Week 8 to take on the Rams (3-3) on Oct. 28.
Thursday Night Football is at 5:25 p.m. tonight as the Seahawks look to improve to 6-1 on the season against their division rival Cardinals, who beat the Seahawks in Glendale last season.
Will the Seahawks show they can win on the road against an NFC West opponent? Or will the Cardinals improve to 3-0 at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2013?
Here is the broadcast information so you don’t miss any of the action:
Game: Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Kickoff: 5:25 p.m. PT
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
TV: Broadcast on NFL Network
Radio: 710 ESPN Radio & 97.3 FM
Online: NFL Game Rewind, which will be available as soon as the game ends
The Seahawks will visit the Cardinals tonight in their first division game on the road this season.
The Seahawks come into the meeting 5-1 while the Cardinals come in 3-3. To better understand the Arizona Cardinals, I spoke with Scott Allen, the editor of Raising Zona, a part of Fansided.
Here is the conversation:
1. The Cardinals are sitting at 3-3 this season, 3rd in the NFC West. Is this where Cardinals fans expected to be at this point of the season? Is this record better or worse than expected at the start of the season?
I can tell you it’s about where I expected them to be. Honestly this team could be 5-1 or 1-5 depending on your point of view. They should have beaten St. Louis after holding a 24-13 4th quarter lead in week one, but blew the lead and lost 27-24. In Week 4, they beat Tampa Bay 13-10 in a game they really should have lost. Then they were losing 6-3 to Carolina at home at halftime in Week 5 but dominated the second half to win 22-6. The Niners loss on Sunday was a tough pill to swallow since they had a shot to win down 2 late in the third. Cards fans will take 3-3 at this point given the favorable schedule over the next month (3 home games and a bye). Next road game isn’t until Nov. 17 against Jacksonville. Can’t ask for anything better than that.
2. What are the Cardinals biggest strengths on the field? What are their biggest weaknesses?
Strength is the defense, although the offense has shown bright spots. Biggest weakness is maintaining drives and converting on third downs. They are really struggling there. The biggest weakness on defense is covering tight ends. Tight ends have been the top receiver for the Cards opponent in five of six games.
3. The Cardinals beat the Seahawks in Glendale at the start of last season. What do they need to do on Thursday to beat the Seahawks again?
Well, they need to come with the same game plan they had against the Niners. They need a balanced attack, not force balls into receivers and limit turnovers.
4. Which player on the Cardinals should the Seahawks keep their eye on? Who has the best opportunity to make the biggest impact on the game?
On offense, it should be running back Andre Ellington. Kid can ball. He is quick to the edges and has good hands. He can be used as a back and a receiver. On defense it is Karlos Dansby. He has somehow had a re-birth of sorts since re-joining the Cards in free agency. Those two clearly also have the ability to make huge impacts on the game.
5. What is your prediction of the outcome of Thursday night’s game?
My heart says the Cards are headed in the right direction after a much better than expected showing in San Francisco, but I’m not sure the short week helps them here. My mind says it’ll be close but the Cards fall short to the Seahawks 20-13.
The Seattle Seahawks travel into Arizona to face the Cardinals on the Week 7 edition of Thursday Night Football. The Seahawks rebounded after taking their first loss of the season to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5 to defeat the Tennessee Titans 20-13 in Week 6. Seattle comes into the game at 5-1 and on top of the NFC West. Arizona is fourth in the West, but, at 3-3, has the best record of any last place team in a division. Arizona Cardinals tickets for this game are averaging $131, 19% more the average Cardinals home ticket in 2013. However, this is a 28% less than the average price for Seattle Seahawks tickets on the road. The get-in price is currently $41 and prices for the game are also up 2% in the last week.
The last time the two teams played at University of Phoenix Stadium was last year’s season opener. Ticket prices for that game were just $89, 32% cheaper than this year’s game.
The Seahawks have used their running game to beat down opponents this season. Some of this is in part to Seattle having the lead late in games, so they are running to kill the clock, but the run has been effective either way. The Seahawks have failed to gain 150 yards on the ground in just one game this season. Marshawn Lynch has been the main component of the running game averaging 19.5 rushing attempts per game and 4.2 yards per attempt. Seattle has two other dangerous backs in Robert Turbin and Christine Michael who are both averaging over four yards per carry in limited touches.
In the passing game, Russell Wilson must be aware of Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson has become one of the best cornerbacks in the league in his third season and already has three interceptions in 2013. Wilson is averaging just 26 pass attempts and 206 yards per game, and is throwing a touchdown on 5.1% of those pass attempts.
Remember, for the best deals on NFL regular season, playoffs, and Super Bowl tickets, visit TiqIQ.com.
The Seattle Seahawks took the league by storm in 2013, thanks to the always competitive Pete Carroll and an unlikely rookie sensation in quarterback Russell Wilson.
Backed by an elite rushing attack lead by Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks worked with their nasty defense to go 11-5 and make it to the second round of last year’s playoffs. With all of the same pieces intact, plus sound additions like cornerback Antoine Winfield and defensive end Michael Bennett, Seattle’s defense should be even scarier in 2013.
The team also improved on offense, adding the explosive Percy Harvin via trade, while also drafting former Texas A&M running back, Christine Michael. While Harvin is out (hip) until late November, his presence could still be felt late in the year as the Seahawks make another playoff push.
All we know for sure is this is still a very deep and balanced team on both sides of the ball and they’re fully expected to make another deep run in 2013 and fans in Seattle are excited. Currently, the average price of Seattle Seahawks tickets is $253. With that said, let’s take a look at how much it will cost for their NFC West games, at home and on the road.
- (9/15) vs. San Francisco 49ers | Avg: $473 | Get-in: $203
Clearly this is an expensive game, but few 49ers/Seahawks games will be more hyped than this one. It’s their first battle of the year and it’s in Seattle. It’s a toss-up, but it goes for 87% more than the home average for the Seahawks.
- (12/22) vs. Arizona Cardinals | Avg: $212 | Get-in: $75
This week 16 meeting with Arizona is Seattle’s cheapest home division game, which is ironic because it’s the one they’re most likely to win. Still, it’s actually a solid deal at 16% below their home game average for the season.
- (12/29) vs. St. Louis Rams | Avg: $222 | Get-in: $75
Seattle’s home/season finale against a competent division rival. Booyah. A lot could be on the line in this one, yet it’s still 12% under the Hawks’ home game average. It should be a tough battle, but the Seahawks are the better team and should prevail to enter the playoffs on a high note.
- (10/17) @ Arizona Cardinals | Avg: $119 | Get-in: $31
Seahawks fans get a discount in the first meeting with the Cardinals, but they’ll have to take it to the road to get it. This one should be a win on paper, yet it’s almost $100 cheaper than the battle in Seattle.
- (10/28) @ St. Louis Rams | Avg: $143 | Get-in: $29
Seahawks and Rams get another bargain here, as St. Louis is good enough to give the Seahawks a run for their money, yet this one is cheaper than their other showdown by about $80 on average.
- (12/8) @ San Francisco 49ers | Avg: $243 | Get-in: $79
This December meeting understandably isn’t going to be quite as intense as the first meeting in September, but it actually is the more important game. Even so, it’s over $200 cheaper than the first game these two wage war in.
One of the best things about this time of year, and my role here at 12thMR, is getting invited to participate in mock drafts with draft experts from around the country. This week, I took part in a 2 round mock for FPFootball.
There were 8 people involved, one picking for every team in a division. I, of course, was picking for the teams in the NFC West.
Picking for teams other than the Seahawks in a draft like this was an interesting challenge. I tried to prepare and make sure I knew what each team needed and the types of players they prefer, but I doubt the fans of those teams will like the decisions I made.
I can say that I took picking for our division rivals seriously. A lot of these picks are ones that I hope they don’t make when the real draft finally gets here in April.
Take a look. And be sure to click the above link to see how the entire 2 round draft unfolded. Let me know in the comments how bad I did.
Strategy: Fix the offense, especially the offensive line.
Drafted Players: QB Geno Smith, OT Terron Armstead
The original plan was to select OT Eric Fisher at #7, but he came off the board before then. That also meant that when Geno Smith dropped to the Cardinals it became a no brainer. They need a franchise QB, and he’s likely the only one in this draft class.
Besides, the Cardinals were able to draft Terron Armstead in round 2. He’s a bit of a project compared to the first round tackles, but he has a high ceiling and will be better than the embarrassingly bad tackles who played the position for Arizona last season.
Strategy: Get Sam Brandford some weapons
Drafted Players: WR Tayvon Austin, S Jonathan Cyprien, TE Zach Ertz
Austin provides the Rams with instant upgrade for the offense. He’s not a classic route runner type wide receiver, but he’s still a dynamic athlete that will help Bradford. Ertz was the best player available in round 2 and made too much sense not to select. I know the Rams signed Cook in free agency, but he’s almost exclusively a receiver and offers nothing in terms of in-line blocking. Ertz adds an element that is missing in the offense, as well and just being an overall talent upgrade for the roster.
Jonathan Cyprien is a pick that will likely get some “what the heck?” comments. After Austin was taken, Cyprien gave me a chance to change the script by taking who I thought was the best player available. Safety isn’t a huge need for the Rams, but getting Cyprien gives them a young safety to pair with their young CBs and D-line as they build that defense for the future.
Strategy: Seahawks only have 1 pick in the first 2 rounds. Make it count by getting a playmaker.
Drafted Players: Khaseem Greene, OLB – Rutgers
Greene was a player I didn’t think would be available at #56. He’s an outstanding OLB who, like the other starting LBs in Seattle, is versatile enough to play multiple LB spots. Good against both the run and in coverage, Greene would give Seattle one of the best 4-3 linebacking groups in the entire NFL. I was more interested in getting a starting 3-tech DT, but none were on the board that I was comfortable taking at this spot.
Strategy: Fix the secondary, especially safety.
Drafted Players: S Matt Elam, CB Desmond Trufant, WR Quinton Patton
Elam was the best safety on the board, and will start right away. Trufant further upgrades their secondary, which is the closest thing to a weakness you’ll find in the 49ers defense.
Patton at the end of round 2 was good value, and provided them with another option at WR, where they need additional talent around their young QB. Thought about taking TE Travis Kelce here to replace the recently departed Delanie Walker, but Patton was above him on my draft board and also filled a need.
After completely leveling two teams in consecutive weeks the Seattle Seahawks and their coach, Pete Carroll have been coming under fire for “running up the score.” Some of this criticism came on the same exact day that two other teams the Saints and Falcons won by an even larger margin in shutouts with completely different analysis provided. In the case of the Saints game, where they beat the Buccaneers 41-0, Brian Billick pontificated that the Saints were simply giving game experience to their younger players and developing them. In the Falcon’s 34-0 rout of the Giants it was observed that they were simply playing like a “Super Bowl team.” Meanwhile John Lynch was showing concern over Seattle running up the score on Buffalo.
There are a few aspects to this that need to be broken down. First, this was the second week in a row where Seattle had come out and destroyed their opponent. In Seattle’s 58-0 shutout of Arizona the week before, Tim Ryan couldn’t get over the fact that Seattle kept scoring. Never mind the fact that 14 of those points came from the defense and Seattle had pulled it’s starters with ten minutes to go in the third quarter. Seattle did attempt a long pass on a fourth down, but they were in a field situation where punting would have been ridiculous, a field goal had a high probability of success, and Seattle instead chose to have its backup quarterback make a long pass to a rookie backup receiver that was incomplete.
Against Buffalo, Seattle ran a fake punt that was successful and was called due to a preset play in a given situation. Pete Carroll subsequently apologized and said that he should have called the play off. I can see why people might be upset with that play call. As for running up the score however, Marshawn Lynch came out in the third quarter. Backup Robert Turbin was put in. Matt Flynn was inserted with about five minutes left to go in the game.
Neither Arizona nor Buffalos defense showed any capability of stopping Seattle no matter who was in the game. It creates awkward situations, but at some point the defense is required to make a stop and an offense taking a knee with a quarter to go seems even more humiliating.
There seem to be several factors should be discussed. What exactly did Seattle do uniquely that the Saints and Falcons did not that warranted a truckload of crap to be dumped on the Seahawks and more specifically Pete Carroll? What exactly constitutes “running up the score?” Is it the difference in points or the play calling? Is the standard evenly applied to all teams?
I’m not going to focus on the Seattle-Arizona game because there is nothing that Seattle could have done besides take a knee or punt on every play starting in the third quarter. The NFL probably would have found a way to fine the team and Arizona, rightly, would have been pissed.
In the Buffalo game, the only thing Seattle did that could be deemed unsportsmanlike would be running a fake punt. If this is what offends people, then Pete Carroll has apologized and owned the mistake. He might not feel as bad as you want him to but why should he honestly care about your dainty sensibilities? He’s done more than Bill Beilichick has ever done in regard to running up scores by even apologizing. If it wasn’t the play call that upset you then it could only have been the actual point difference.
The final score of Seattle and Buffalo was 50-17. That is a difference of 33 points. New Orleans beat Tampa Bay by 41 points and kept Drew Brees in until there was just over six minutes remaining in the game. Pete Carroll pulled Russell Wilson much earlier the week before against Arizona.
In the Giants-Falcons game, Matt Ryan didn’t come out until there were four minutes remaining in the game. This was mostly a token maneuver as Atlanta proceeded to run Jason Snelling five times and then have Luke McCown take a knee twice. Atlanta beat New York by 34.
Maybe all three teams ran up the score, played like Super Bowl teams, and were trying to develop young players at the same time and Seattle just had the bad luck of getting the ass-hat Tim Ryan in week 14 and a very sensitive John Lynch in week 15 while New Orleans was being observed by Brian Billick and the Falcons by the Kenny, Moose and Goose show (my favorite announcing crew). If the score is your problem than I’d like to see the Saints and Falcons included on any list you put the Seahawks on. Feel free to throw the Belichick led Patriots from 2007 on the list as well. They ran the score up on their opponents for an entire season. Never once did Brady come out of the game.
Some other notable score differentials:
- 2009: New England 59, Tennessee 0
- 2011: New Orleans 62, Indinapolis 7
- Drew Brees stayed in the game and ran up the score because he was attempting to catch up t0 Brady in breaking the single season passing record. Are records legitimate reasons to be “unsportsmanlike?”
Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals also kept passing after the game was in hand against the Seahawks in Mike Holmgren’s final season as coach in a successful effort to have three receivers over 1,000 yards for the season. Records seem like a dubious reason since they are completely selfish in nature and if sportsmanship is the name of the game, it seems like that would trump individual achievements.
I’m not exactly sure where the line in points is to be considered as “running up the score” so I can’t really create one. For most people I imagine it can be best described by using Justice Potter Stewart’s words in the 1964 Supreme Court case Jacobellis v. Ohio regarding hard-core pornography: you “know it when [you] see it.” That is a perfectly fine rationale, however to be used, one must acknowledge the inherent subjectivity of it and therefore it’s overall shortcoming in meaning anything. But when did subjectivity and meaning ever stop sports or political pundits from saying anything?
The final thing could just be people’s general disdain for Pete Carroll that is carried over from his successful career as a college coach. I’ve seen the terms “douche” and “idiot” thrown around in describing Pete Carroll. College football is an entirely different subject and huge score differentials are much more common so I can only assume people are offering their opinions on the character of Pete Carroll over the Reggie Bush incident. I have my opinions on what happened at USC (and had them before Seattle hired Pete Carroll) but I’m not going to hash that out here. The fact is there are many coaches in college that run scores up. In fact Jim Harbaugh did it to Pete Carroll and even went for a two-point conversion after already being up. Les Miles, Mac Brown, Nick Saban, the list could go on. These are opinions that can’t be changed and aren’t worth acknowledging after this sentence.
Seattle gets a lot of disrespect. Much more than teams from larger markets (Giants, Patriots, Cowboys, etc.) or with more renowned histories (Green Bay). This makes it hard for Seattle fans to not instinctively become defensive and circle the wagons every time some dip$h!t from ESPN decides to advocate for breaking Russell Wilson’s legs as retribution to Pete Carroll. Toni Kornheiser wouldn’t dream of saying that about Robert Griffin or Andrew Luck. If he did ESPN would come down on him like a ton of bricks because Griffin and Luck are the players and stories that the network has been pimping all year. He said it about Russell Wilson though, and that’s okay. Never mind the fact that the moment to advocate for unnecessary violence might not be this current one.
I vigorously try to resist the urge to go into an “us-versus-them” mindset. Seattle often doesn’t get a fair shake in the overall scheme of NFL commentary. We put up with being labeled as “South Alaska” on national television by an idiot that shills for boner pills in his free time. Seattleites are used to that. It is different when people try to comment on the character and integrity of a team they normally don’t think twice about. I’m proud that my football team is full of players that generally avoid trouble, don’t beat women, abuse drugs, and/or shoot people. (Leroy Hill is really the only exception I can think of.)
You don’t have to like Pete Carroll but I wouldn’t call him unsportsmanlike or a douche. By extension, you’d be calling the players that love playing for him the same thing and then the fans that support those players the same. That is what I resent. I’m okay if opinions are consistently applied no matter who might fall victim to them, but I am sick of the Seahawks being singled out as some illegitimate exception that doesn’t belong. There are people that are more defensive than me, but I don’t want to turn into that kind of fan. I’m willing to listen to any argument but be willing to include everyone else that falls under whatever category you establish and include them when you talk about the subject. Don’t just refer to Seattle as the paragon of all that is wrong in the NFL. I can think of several teams that have bigger issues both on and off the field.
*I just want to add that I really like and respect both Ken Whisenhunt and Chan Gailey as coaches and men. I have a soft spot for Buffalo as another small-market team that gets limited respect. I respect Whisenhunt as a coach and competitor and would be disappointed to see him out of the NFC West. I also realize and acknowledge there are probably other small market teams that feel similarly to Seattle’s fan base in certain areas discussed above.
Wow. I don’t even know what to say. That game became ridiculous somewhere near the middle of the second quarter. Then in the third quarter, the game was handed over to Matt Flynn and the rest of Seattle’s bench. There have already been a couple other “gut reaction” pieces on the site about this game, but I haven’t read them because I don’t want to have other thoughts invade my “purely responsive” weekly piece. So forgive any redundancy that may occur. I’m not going to touch on any statistics because I’m sure they’re covered and at this point they are so ridiculous as to be nearly useless in my opinion.
As a testament to the class I believe Seattle fans have, a Twitter discussion began about how to finish the game with the most class and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, when the opposing defense isn’t able to step up and make any stops it’s that much harder. I do not honestly believe that Seattle ran the score up. Larry Fitzgerald’s father, who is a journalist, feels that the Cardinals quit on the game. I don’t know if that happened, but they definitely lost any sort of fighting spirit. Outside of just handing the ball over to Adrian Wilson on every possession, I’m not sure what Seattle could have done that was “classy.”
- Punt on every first down.
- Take a knee (“victory formation”) on every down and then punt.
- Clear bench, pull starters, and take low percentage shots downfield to rookies with a backup quarterback.
- Run basic, non-gadget plays with the idea that Arizona’s defense will have to make a stop eventually.
Seattle obviously opted for decision three. Every other one would have been borderline mocking to the Cardinals. I also don’t feel like the Arizona players necessarily felt put upon because I can recall several moments in the fourth quarter when Adrian Wilson, a fierce competitor, was helping Seattle players off the field. Ken Whisenhunt was clearly upset with the game, but it didn’t seem like he was especially pissed or offended by Pete Carroll during the post-game handshake. It was just a culmination of several variants that combined into a ridiculous, unavoidable outcome.
I’d also like to point out that I don’t recall nearly as much criticism when admitted cheater, Bill Belichick, repeatedly runs up the score with quarterback Tom Brady, but it’s no big deal. Pete Carroll was actually remarkably calm and contained on the sideline. I don’t know what Seattle could have done differently. Arizona completely broke down and Seattle pulled back as much as possible without actually pointedly, humiliating Arizona.
That’s all I’m going to say on that topic.
Next, Richard Sherman played out of his friggin’ gourd. I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t been shouted from every 12th Man with a Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, MySpace, or Google+ account. What a ridiculous game. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his celebrations but in the big picture, I think it was good-natured and not intended maliciously. I think he was also out to show that he is a stud whether on PEDs or not.
I really want Russell Wilson and Zach Miller to get on the same page. I feel like this is such an under-utilized asset. Anthony McCoy had a great game but is not a starting tight end. Zach Miller is a great blocking and receiving tight end that for some reason isn’t targeted a lot and, when he is, doesn’t get very accurate throws. If Seattle can figure out this piece of the puzzle, I think it would help the offense immensely.
Now I’m going to take a slightly more conservative position on the game. Statistically, with just plane-jane numbers, (i.e. completed passes, touchdowns, yards of offense, etc.) Seattle is a goliath. These numbers however came against an opponent that was far from competitive. Is it Seattle’s best win ever? Or even best game ever? I don’t think so. For me, the best game is one that is a gut-it-out, grinding, old-school boxing match of a game. Something closer to the win in Chicago a week before that required two game winning drives by a rookie quarterback to overcome a game full of horrible officiating. Those are the games that define a team. Those are the type of games that players, in my opinion, truly earn their stripes. The game against Arizona simply became a circus. Fun to watch, but a statistical anomaly. Putting up similar or even slightly less amazing numbers against San Francisco, Chicago, Green Bay, New England, or Houston would in my mind be a “greater” game.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be celebrated though. A win is a win and Seattle needs all the wins they can get. The only path to a number two seed is for Seattle to win out and San Francisco to lose one other game on top of the game in Seattle on December 23rd which has been flexed to Sunday night. A bye and home field advantage for a game would be huge for Seattle and it’s absolutely in the realm of possibility. The hard part is keeping expectations in check.
The 12th Man had a collective cathartic experience on Sunday. It was long overdue and well deserved. It’s not the end of the road though, and Seattle has some tough games yet to play. I hate losing. Absolutely hate it. I hate it more than I enjoy winning, which is probably why I am taking such a reserved stance on Seattle’s beat down of Arizona. I’m a terrible loser as my girlfriend and family can attest to. I go into isolation and don’t want to talk to anybody. I’m a gracious winner and never bring it up to fans of opposing teams. I didn’t make a single post on the wall of my many friends who are Bears fans after the stressful game two weeks ago.
I make these statements not because I want to feel good about myself, but I think that the 12th Man also generally holds these feelings. We want to win. Badly. We absolutely hate losing. But as a fan base, we are gracious in victory and generally feel uncomfortable gloating after the game is over. Bragging is not something inherent in the Northwest’s nature. We hate being described with pejorative descriptions, like “South Alaska” (suck it Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw), but let the intrinsic class, dignity, and good nature of the region speak for itself. That’s why I’m proud to be a 12th Man and an ambassador for the Northwest in the other parts of the country that I have lived in.
With the Seahawks playing last night, and the game’s result leaving not wanting to discuss that game just yet, I thought I’d preview some of this weekend’s key games and provide come quick predictions on how I expect the games to unfold.
As I do with my Seahawks predictions, I’m going to base my predictions on the ratings from Pro Football Focus, I’m just going to go into less detail.
After looking like they were going to be one of the league’s top defenses for the first few weeks, the Cardinals D has come back to Earth, including a -9.6 rating a week ago. They now rank 12th overall in defense at 17.2, which clearly isn’t as elite as we thought they might be.
On offense, the Cardinals are a league worst -111.4 (the 2nd worst -29.2). The don’t do anything well, but their pass blocking and run blocking are -98.5 of that rating, clearly they have major troubles on their offensive line.
Unlike the Cardinals, the Vikings are genuinely good team on both sides of the ball. Their total defense is 3rd in the league (47.6) and their total offense is 5th (51.5). Christain Ponder hasn’t been great, but he’s quieted many of his skeptics with solid (though unspectacular) play.
This is a pretty easy call. The Vikings have the better offense, the better defense, the better QB and are playing at home. The again, this is the NFL so that means the Cardinals are probably going to win. Still, The data predicts a Vikings win, so I will to.
Vikings 24 – 13 Cardinals
After a whirlwind of a weekend in the NFL, the dust has finally settled. And while teams are developing game plans for this week’s opponent, I’d like to shed some light on a quiet, yet growing line of thought regarding, not only the Seattle Seahawks, but the entire NFC West.
Entering into the 2012 NFL season, it was widely believed that the class of the NFC as a whole, and most certainly for the NFC West, was the San Francisco 49ers. And with a 13-3 record in 2011, who’s to argue that? Returning all 11 of its defensive starters, while adding depth on the offensive line, as well as speed to its receiving corps, one would be remised to not entertain the thought that the 49ers were a shoe-in for a return to the NFC’s elite, and a deep playoff run. And while that’s all very well and good, entering Week 4 of the 2012 season has most experts scratching their head as to the resurgence of this once afterthought of a division.
Week 1 started off with a rare inter-division matchup, as the ‘Hawks travelled down to Glendale and lost out in a defensive battle, 20-16. Many looked at this as a disappointing effort on the Seahawks part- as most gave Arizona, and its Quarterback carousel, little respect. However, sitting at 3-0, and in most publications Top 10, this team is the epitome of what has become a defensively dominant, offensively efficient division. Many look to the Baltimore Ravens of old as a blueprint for this style of football, and since they won a Super Bowl utilizing it, why not? Kevin Kolb seems to be on the road to redemption, while the Arizona run game sorts itself out, the defense has kept this team undefeated, even beating New England AT HOME. A statement win that helped spark the conversation regarding the new NFC West. The NFC “Worst”, no longer my friends.
The Seattle Seahawks are 4th in Total Defense (yards per game), Arizona is 10th, the 49ers 11th, and even St. Louis is 19th. The Seahawks also lead the NFL in Scoring Defense, at 13 Points Per Game. The Cardinals are 2nd at 13.3, and the 49ers 11th at 21.7. 3 out of the 4 teams in this division boast top 15 defenses. The Rams, while sitting at 1-2 have been in all of their games, playing right alongside the Lions at home, beating the Redskins, and losing to a tough Chicago team at home. One play goes their way at the end of that Lions game, and you’ve got a one 3-0, and three 2-1 teams. I don’t know about you, but that’s something to be proud of. Talk about transforming an image that just a few years ago was reliant on West Coast Offenses, and “Greatest Shows on Turf”. Most called this division “soft”. And while these philosophies took the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams to Super Bowls, the general feeling I gather from the collective NFL is that this new physically dominant, brute force identity is definitely more roundly respected, if not borderline feared.
The NFL Power Pendulum is a-swingin’ 12th Man. The NFL is no longer shouting from their posts that we’re part of the NFC Worst. Rather, they’re whispering the idea that this could be the NFC BEST. It’s still early in the season, but if the returns are any indication, they might be right.
As with all wins or losses, its rarely all good or all bad. You could say that about the Seahawks/Cardinals matchup on Sunday. Yes, it was a loss for the Hawks. And yes, there is a lot of disappointment. So after we’re done crying in our beer, let’s take a step back and try to figure out what happened and where the team goes from here.
Special teams, especially the work of one Mr. Leon Washington. His two long returns of punts kept the Seahawks in the game and clearly inspired the team in the second half. The kicking game was pretty good, not excellent. Missing a field goal in the first half created the situation at the end of the game where the only way to win the game for the Hawks was to get the touchdown. But having a long field goal attempt blocked by the player with the longest arms in the NFL is probably nothing to be concerned about.
Also in the “good” category is the way the team bounced back from a miserable first half, somewhat figured out the Cardinals blitz package, and gave Russell Wilson a little more time in the pocket. While it wasn’t a flawless performance, at least it was enough to put them in the lead and have a chance to win the game.
You have to like the way the offense took the ball down the field on the final drive with the game on the line. That was like the chocolate shake with whipped cream. All that remained was to put the cherry on top with a Doug Baldwin catch for a TD but the gods of friction and gravity intervened to pull the ball away from Baldwin and give him a set of sore ribs and lungs devoid of oxygen for a few breathless moments. Also good is he walked off the field on his own afterwards.
The defense looked mostly pretty solid. The Cardinals did seem to have them figured out on a pair of drives in the first half until Seattle turned the tide and had everything going their way, right up to the point Cardinals QB Skelton got hurt. As sometimes happens when the starter has to leave the game, the backup comes in and gives his team a different look and feel, a little lift, and suddenly they’re back in it.
Russell Wilson had a miserable first half but the good part was how he kept his composure and bounced back in the second half, made some great throws and got the team a couple scores.
The offensive line. Especially in the first half but also at key moments in the second half. There were a lot of times when they allowed unblocked runners into the pocket to harass Wilson. This disruption of the pocket made Russell Wilson look like the rookie he is. But you can’t lay the blame on Wilson. The O line was simply terrible. The second half was better, but there is clearly still a LOT of work to do for that unit.
The Cardinals had the Hawks blitzes well blocked. Pressure on the Cardinal’s QB was practically non-existent.
The Cardinals had 3 long drives for scores that were fueled in part by the fact that both their QB’s had enough time to find Larry Fitzgerald who somehow found himself one on one against a Seahawks’s linebacker more than a few times.
Two backwards passes to covered receivers in the flank. They did it twice, and both times the Cardinals defense sniffed it out and one time recovered the fumbled lateral. It would have been two times had the first pass not gone out of bounds. The players seemed not to know it was a backward pass and didn’t make an attempt to fall on the ball, which makes me believe the play was not run properly. Pete Carroll needs to banish that play from the play book, or re-design it to make it a little less obvious.
8 Shots at the end zone from inside the 15 for the offense and they couldn’t come up with a score. The Hawks have to get one of those, they just have to. The didn’t so they lost.
Penalties!!! There were several drive killing penalties, and WAY too many penalties total. I lost count after 13 penalties. That’s just unacceptable. If the Seahawks have HALF as many penalties, they win this game.
The Officiating. It was just horrible. Too many pass interference calls and what the heck happened on that late game time-out??? Very inconsistent, and they seemed to be listening to all of Larry Fitzgerald’s whining every time he claimed interference on an incomplete pass.
Maybe we can chalk this game up to the inability of Carroll to find a starting QB until after week 3 of the preseason. The team looked unprepared for the blitz and Wilson could have used another week of practice as the designated starter. The O line will have to start gelling sooner than later. Their next opponent, Dallas, just beat the Super Bowl Champs on their home field, and San Francisco just beat Green Bay in Green Bay, so the Seahawks have their work cut out for them. Other teams studying this game’s film will undoubtedly keep on blitzing Russell Wilson until the Seahawks figure out how to turn those blitzes to their own advantage. Until then, expect more of the same.
Marshawn Lynch is reportedly experiencing back spasms and is not a sure thing to play in the Seahawks’ opener in Arizona this Sunday according to Adam Schefter at ESPN. This has implications in both the real and fantasy realms of football.
First let’s go over the fantasy football implications. In most league’s Marshawn Lynch is probably – and if he isn’t, he should be – a low RB1 or high RB2 which means he should be starting. With Lynch being a concern in regards to playing this Sunday, you may want to consider picking up Robert Turbin to start in Lynch’s place. My expectations would be for the offensive plan to be nearly identical with Turbin starting and him to get the majority of carries. I would only recommend this plan of action if your bench is thin on starting running backs and you don’t have another running back playing at the same time or later who is guaranteed a start and is going to get significant rushing attempts. This would require holding onto both Lynch and Turbin for the week and keeping an eye on game time announcements before plugging in your starter for the week.
Lynch not being able to start has an even greater effect on the outcome of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. With a rookie starting at quarterback it adds increased value to having a veteran running back that is capable of carrying the team in case of any growing pains or late-game situations. Starting a rookie at both quarterback and running back could throw the outcome of the game into jeopardy. With Arizona’s offense in its current state of disarray, Seattle was favored (slightly) to win the game. If Lynch is out, I’d argue that the game would be an even match since Arizona’s defense is still very strong. The winner would likely be the team whose defense scores the most points.
Lynch is also a key component to the morale of the Seahawks. He is the backbone of the offense and not having him for the season opener would leave the offense without any proven personalities that can lift the team up by making the gutsy play if the going gets tough. It doesn’t mean that somebody can’t, or won’t, step up, but it would definitely leave a void where Beast Mode would normally be.
Keep an eye out for developments regarding Lynch’s back throughout the week and prepare for a last minute substitution to your fantasy roster if you are currently planning on starting Lynch this Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals 27 @ Tennessee Titans 32
Arizona entered this game with a huge question mark at quarterback and on offensive line struggling to impose itself on opposing defenses. John Skelton started the game out with a sack for a loss and promptly followed it up with an interception. Skelton made some decent throws across the middle but he had trouble overall. Kolb started the second half with a pick-six due to a “rookie” mistake – throwing late over the middle, across the body. He honestly should know better. Arizona’s issues at offensive tackle can’t be understated, either. It is going to make the whole offense that much harder to run. Fitzgerald, of course, looked like the ridiculous stud that he is. I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t love to see him in their uniforms. If there isn’t significant improvement on the offensive line and at quarterback, it’s going to be a long season for Fitzgerald and the Cardinals organization.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt has a tough decision ahead of him since neither quarterback played well enough, or even consistently enough, to have the job outright.
The loss of Levi Brown poses another large question for Arizona. He injured his triceps in last week’s game against the Raiders and required surgery. Does Arizona put him on the IR in which case he is out for the whole season? Or do they take up a roster spot with a player than won’t be able to play until the second half of the season?
All in all, Arizona’s defense is definitely the better of the two units but it still didn’t look stellar tonight. It’s a defense that can really rough up receivers and play strong on the line, but it also faces a consistency issue. I don’t think Arizona is going to get walked over by teams, but I think they are going to have a rough season until some of these injury and consistency issues iron themselves out.
Arizona Cardinals @ Kansas City Chiefs
The latest news out of Arizona following their 27-17 defeat in their second preseason game is that John Skelton is now the favored quarterback. This should be considered an upset since the Cardinals gave up top cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 pick to get Kevin Kolb before the 2011 season where he was largely considered the starting QB of the future for the organization. It also doesn’t speak that much for Skelton’s abilities, since it is largely due to Kolb’s complete ineffectualness.
There were a lot of missed opportunities and connections on offense for Arizona which might spell trouble. They have stud-receiver Larry Fitzgerald but without a quarterback to throw to him, it could mitigate his threat to opposing secondaries. The Cards also made a move at right tackle by moving D’Anthony Batiste to the starting lineup.
Arizona’s next game is Friday, August 17th at 7:00pm versus Oakland. I’ll have better insights on Arizona after this week’s game.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Tennessee Titans
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here since there are plenty of articles on this site already covering the game from various perspectives. Some macro-level analysis is that the defense is ferocious. (I realize I’ve been using odd adjectives lately in describing Seattle’s defense, but I promise it’s not hyperbole.) Seattle has the type of defense that will keep the Hawks in the game no matter what the score is. They are ball-hawking much more and just looking to lay hits on receivers. It will be a lot of fun to watch. Seattle beat the Titans 27-17.
Both Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn played well. Both had one pick. At this point, my guess is that Flynn will start, but if Wilson can continue to improve, he could be Seattle’s future starter and make Flynn’s resigning anything but certain. Rookie running back Robert Turbin showed potential but still had trouble finding some gaps. The offensive line also needs to cohere much more. It looked like five really good players playing separately instead of one awesome unit which will hopefully happen after a few more games.
The Seahawks also had no penalties on either side of the ball in the first half. Alex Barron broke the streak in the third quarter with a false start penalty. This is not acceptable at home and considering he has a history of drawing penalties it probably hurt his standing in making the team.
Seattle’s next game is Saturday, August 18th at 6:00pm at Denver.
St. Louis Rams @ Indianapolis Colts
Admittedly, all I saw of this game were the highlights which basically meant a lot of Andrew Luck. The Rams got shellacked by a score of 38-3. That being said, the Rams are a very young team and have a lot of experience to gain. They have a new coaching staff and will most likely be a lot better during the season, especially later, than they are right now. There isn’t a lot of insight to be garnered from the game, good or bad. Sam Bradford is the starting quarterback and the Rams’ receivers will at least start the season healthy. There was also little to gain by give Steven Jackson a lot of touches since he has nothing to gain and a lot to lose.
The Rams play next on Saturday, August 18th at 5:00 pm vs. Kansas City.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Niners beat the Vikings 17-6 but are providing good evidence to anybody that believes in a bell curve or mean-regression theory. The Niners have just signed two more tight ends following Delanie Walker hurting his knee. The news on Aldon Smith is all but positive and it could be a while before we the Niners see him on the field which is hurting them at linebacker. Quarterback Scott Tolzien has made himself part of the conversation for backup and is competing with Colin Kaepernick. Brandon Jacobs went 4-for-4 on carries and first downs and looks to be a solid companion to Frank Gore during the season.
The 49ers hope to build on last season but will face a much tougher schedule and division. They have brought in players that bolster their smash-mouth style but will almost certainly be affected by injuries more than they were last season. The linebackers are already facing several, and this will make imposing death-by-fieldgoal on opponents that much harder. I’m not convinced Moss will be a factor since Alex Smith does not have a very strong deep throw. The will need to figure out a way to score more touchdowns in 2012 if they hope to win the division.
The Niners play next at Houston on Saturday, August 18th at 5:00pm.
Our preview of the NFL has finally reached the NFC West, and I’ve decided to start with the Arizona Cardinals. Last season, the Cardinals looked like they might have a shot at one of the draft’s top QBs when they started 1-6, but then they hot really hot and finished the year at 8-8.
On a programming note, at the conclusion of the NFC West, we’re going to be done with our team by team previews “for the most part.” We will have completed just over two thirds of the NFL teams. The problem is that getting people who cover the remaining teams to assist me is becoming troublesome. Many are on vacation resting up before the season starts.
I could put these together myself, but my knowledge of team’s outside the division isn’t strong enough for me to do them justice. I’d prefer to skip them instead of generating sub-par previews for my loyal readers. I’ll keep trying, and I’ll post them if any come in, but I’m not expecting too many.
Helping me out this time around is Scott Allen from Raising Zona.
Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason: OL and WR help
Key Free Agents Retained: LB Clark Haggans, DE Vonnie Holliday, WR Early Doucet, K Jay Feely, P Dave Zastudil, CB Greg Toler, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
Key Player Additions: OL Adam Snyder, CB William Gay
Key Players Leaving: OL Deuce Lutui, CB Richard Marshall
Quick Thoughts on Draft: Cardinals scored a home run with WR Michael Floyd. All picks have a legitimate chance to make the team. Floyd has great leaping ability and will be a great number two on other side of field from Larry Fitzgerald. They also got a steal in the fourth round with OL Bobby Massie.
Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule: Much tougher than 2011. They will not be able to start 1-6 and finish 8-8 like they did last season with the 2012 schedule. Tough road games against New England, New York Jets, and Minnesota. Not to mention divisional rivals San Francisco and Seattle.
Most Interesting Roster Battle: QB. Unsettled with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. Although coach Ken Whisenhunt has not named a starter and won’t do so until training camp, he has made it publicly known he would like Kolb to take the reins and get the starters role. He has said though he will have no reservations starting Skelton if he ends up being the better QB.
Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012: With the drafting of Floyd and re-signing of Doucet who will get yet one more chance to prove himself, WR is strong again. On defense the LB core no doubt is the strongest, especially in the middle with Daryl Washington and Sam Acho.
Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012: OL – still unknown what the acquisition of Snyder will do for them in addition to the re-siging of Levi Brown, who I sill hold a big question mark over. Massie could be great over time.
Biggest Question Still To Be Answered: Who will win the quarterback position and can Kolb and/or Skelton throw them the ball accurately. The other big question is will RB Ryan Williams make a full return from his preseason ACL injury last year, an injury that took him out before he even played his first ever regular season game.
2012 Prediction: 9-7, 2nd in NFC West, Wild-Card team
I have a tough time seeing the Cardinals as an improved team. Their offensive line and QB situations are dicey, and if without having 2 things set, the Cards just wont get as much as they should from their great receivers. Thats why the Michael Floyd was a head scratcher of a pick. He’s a great talent, but the Cards already had great receivers and they needed help in a lot of other areas.
The defense is similar. There’s talent there, especially at LB. But without the DL to go along with it, the LBs wont be as productive as the could be. Basically my problem is just roster construction philosophy. I believe you always start with the lines, and those are units that the Cardinal front office has neglected in favor for less essential areas.
I’m really not trying to be a Seahawk homer here, just give an honest assessment of their roster how I see it. I’m sure the Cardinal fans will roast me for this, and that’s ok. It what I expect from our rivals from Scottsdale.