Game Preview - Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Game Preview - Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Regular Season Series: Seattle and Arizona are 9-9 against one another all-time. The Seahawks have won five of the last seven meetings, and eight of the last eleven. Since joining the NFC West, the Seahawks are 8-4 against the Cardinals.

Injury Report

Arizona Cardinals

Questionable: CB Eric Green (knee), CB Roderick Hood (ribs)
Probable: T Mike Gandy (ankle), TE Ben Patrick (knee), TE Leonard Pope (ankle), TE Jerame Tuman (ankle)

Seattle Seahawks

Out: LB David Hawthorne (calf), DE Patrick Kerney (shoulder), S C.J. Wallace (hamstring)
Doubtful: DT Red Bryant (ankle)
Questionable: TE Will Heller (knee), FB Leonard Weaver (rib)
Probable: WR Deion Branch (heel), QB Matt Hasselbeck (back), WR Koren Robinson (knee), LB Lofa Tatupu (groin), QB Seneca Wallace (groin)

Stats & Rankings

Arizona Cardinals

Offense
Total: 3rd (385.4 yards per game)
Passing: 2nd (297.3 yards per game)
Rushing: 29th (88.1 yards per game)
Scoring: 1st (29.2 points per game)

Defense
Total: 14th (311.3 yards per game)
Passing: 18th (216.3 yards per game)
Rushing: 10th (95.0 yards per game)
Scoring: 19th (23.1 points per game)
Turnover Ratio: t-9th (+4)

Seattle Seahawks

Offense
Total: 30th (260.2 yards per game)
Passing: 31st (144.7 yards per game)
Rushing: 13th (115.6 yards per game)
Scoring: 27th (18.9 points per game)

Defense
Total: t-27th (372.1 yards per game)
Passing: 31st (252.4 yards per game)
Rushing: 22nd (119.9 yards per game)
Scoring: 25th (25.7 points per game)
Turnover Ratio: t-20th (-2)

Five Things to Watch

Here are five items to watch as the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday:

Return of the Matt – Matt Hasselbeck returns to action after missing five weeks with weakness in his right leg caused by a bulging disc in his back. Few expect Hasselbeck to be back to his normal self in his 1st game, but seeing him run out the tunnel on Sunday should give the Seahawks and the 67,000 fans at Qwest Field a boost.

Changes at Wide Receiver – In addition to Hasselbeck, the Seahawks will have Deion Branch and Courtney Taylor back in uniform on Sunday. Branch missed the first month of the season when he was recovering from off-season ACL surgery, and in his first game back, injured his heel, which has kept him out of the last 5 games. Taylor replaces Keary Colbert, who was released in the wake of a multi-drop performance in Miami a week ago. Branch will start, while Taylor will split time with Jordan Kent as the team's fourth wide receiver.

Julius Jones as the Workhorse – For weeks, I used this space to make the case for the Seahawks to use Julius Jones as the feature back. Last week, Mike Holmgren did exactly that. Jones responded with a 16-carry, 88-yard performance against a Top 10 run defense. Jones has already eclipsed his 2007 rushing total and if given the opportunity, could become the first Seahawks running back to go over 1,000 yards since Shaun Alexander did it in 2005.

Limiting the big plays by the Cardinals receivers – If there was ever a game for the Seahawks secondary to stand up and say "no more", this would be it. Arizona brings the NFL's 2nd-best pass offense into Qwest Field on Sunday. Kurt Warner is having an MVP-type of season, and Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston give the Cards the NFL's best wide receiving trio. Warner has thrown for 300+ yards in four of Arizona's nine games, so the Cardinals are going to make some plays in the passing game. The key for the Seahawks secondary on Sunday will be limiting the big plays and maybe make a few of their own?

Defend Their House – In 2002, the Cardinals spoiled the Seahawks' first regular season game at Qwest Field. Since then, the Seahawks have won five straight home games against Arizona by an average of 15.6 points. While the Seahawks are mathematically still alive for the NFC West title, it's pretty obvious who the likely winner of the division will be this year. No member of the Seahawks wants to see their run at the top of the division come to an end on their home turf.

Programming Notes

FOX's duo of Dick Stockton and Brian Baldinger make their second trip to Qwest Field in the last three weeks. Laura Okmin will work the sidelines

Prediction

The Arizona Cardinals do not play well on the road, and they really don't play well in Qwest Field, which will be rockin' with the return of Hasselbeck and the presence of a division opponent. I see the Seahawks' red zone defense (10th in the NFL) holding the Cardinals to field goal attempts, and I think Hasselbeck, Bobby Engram, Branch and John Carlson will make some plays in the passing game to keep the chains moving and Warner on the sidelines. A late INT by Josh Wilson seals the deal.
Prediction: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 23

Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.

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