By Matthew Asher
With the AFC South portion of their schedule now complete, the Seahawks prepare for their second NFC West divisional game this Thursday as they head to Phoenix to take on the 3-3 Arizona Cardinals.
On paper, this is a game that the Seahawks should dominate. Arizona has one of the least efficient offenses in the league (near the bottom half in most statistical categories) while Seattle counters with one of the most smothering defenses (in the top 10 in most statistical categories) in the league this season.
The Cardinals 18.5 points scored each game, 322.3 total yards of offense and 85.7 rushing yards all rank in the the bottom 10 of the league. Their one saving grace on offense is their passing game, the 236.7 yards a game is still in the bottom half of the league at 18.
On the flip side, The 15.7 points the ‘Hawks give up each game are the third least in the league behind just the Kansas City Chiefs and the Carolina Panthers. The 290.2 total yards and 188.3 passing yards are second best in the league this season.
For Arizona, Carson Palmer has completed almost 60 percent of this throws for 1483 yards. The problem is that he’s thrown just seven touchdowns against 11 interceptions for an unimpressive quarterback rating of 69.3.
Of course, when talking about the Cardinals passing attack, you have to mention Larry Fitzgerald. He currently leads the team with 30 receptions, 405 yards and four touchdowns. Michael Floyd is the other Cardinal wide receiver of note as he has 26 catches going for 345 yards and one touchdown.
The ground game for Arizona is nothing special. Rashard Mendenhall leads the team with 79 rushing attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Andre Ellington has 25 runs for a total of 176 yards and one touchdown.
Arizona’s defense ranks higher than their offensive counterparts, but other than the Cardinals rushing defense, nothing else ranks in the top 10. The 21.2 points allowed a game are the 12 least and the 350.7 total yards of offense ranks in the top half at 15.
What’s interesting is Arizona’s passing defensive ranks. Even though LSU alumnists Patrick Peterson and the “Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu are in the secondary, the defense still gives up 260 passing yards a game, the 19th most. Peterson and Mathieu have combined for four of Arizona’s eight interceptions (Peterson has three) but with the team currently at negative-two in the turnover ratio, they need improvement.
Assuming Seattle can limit Fitzgerald’s receptions in the game and not turn the ball over, there’s no reason they can’t come out of Phoenix with a 6-1 record. Kickoff for this game is scheduled for 5:25pm PDT.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.