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.
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.
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.
Why We Should … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, cardinals, football, forty niners, Frank Gore, Jeff Fisher, Jim Harbough, John Skelton, Josh McDaniels, Kevin Kolb, Lockout, National Football League, NFC West, nfl, quarterback, rams, Sam Bradford, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
Another Guest Editorial by Joe Okabe.
Despite the loss to the New Orleans Saints, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll has to be pleased. The Seahawks have a one game lead in the division with six games left to play. When the 2010 schedule first came out, the first thing I noticed was that Seattle would play four of their final six games at Qwest Field. It’s time to take advantage of that situation.
Everyone is aware that the Seahawks are not a good road team. Yet their two wins on the road this season are more than the rest of the NFC West teams COMBINED! Arizona has only one road victory, while San Francisco and St. Louis have yet to win away from home. (I’m not counting the 49ers’ victory over the Broncos in London, even if San Francisco weren’t the “home team” in that game.)
Seattle owns the tiebreaker over Arizona due to their season sweep. The Cardinals aren’t mathematically eliminated, but they realistically have to win out to have a chance to make the playoffs, since they now must total more wins than the Seahawks to be eligible. (I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that neither Wild Card team will come from the NFC West.)
In addition to being winless on the road, both the 49ers and Rams have four of their remaining six games away from home. Should the Seahawks win at San Francisco on Dec. 12, the 49ers would be in the same situation as Arizona, and almost certainly eliminated from the playoffs. They face an uphill climb regardless.
In the next three weeks, the Rams play at Denver, Arizona and New Orleans. If they don’t win at least two out of those three, their playoff chances would be bleak. Should they win two or three of those games, then the regular season finale on Jan. 2 at Qwest Field against the Seahawks could very well be for the division title. Who would have thought that this would be possible at the beginning of the season?
The Seahawks could render any division rival’s chances moot by taking care of their own business, particularly at home. If they win three out of their four remaining home games, a division title would be highly likely. That, plus a win at either San Francisco or Tampa Bay, would make the playoffs a near certainty.
It’s time for the Seahawks to step up. Everything is in their favor. The NFC West is theirs to win or lose. The season begins in earnest next week against Kansas City, which is 1-4 on the road, followed by another home game against Carolina. The Panthers may very well be the worst team in the NFL, but Seahawks fans should know very well not to take anything for granted. GO HAWKS!