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Behind enemy lines: Seahawks-Cardinals Week 18 Q&A preview with Seahawks Wire

The Arizona Cardinals face the Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon in their regular-season finale at State Farm Stadium.

The last time they played, in Week 7, the Seahawks turned the ball over three time but won the game 20-10. Quarterback Kyler Murray was not yet back from his knee injury and they were playing without running back James Conner and safety Jalen Thompson as well.

To preview this final matchup of the season, we go behind enemy lines with Seahawks Wire managing editor Tim Weaver. He answers a few questions about the Seahawks and makes his predictions for the game.

The 5-2 start to being 8-8

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

After a 5-2 start, what has gone wrong for Seattle?

The short answer is a lot, including a couple of major injuries to their two best linemen – right tackle Abe Lucas has missed half the season with an ongoing knee pain problem and outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu was placed on season-ending injured reserve in late October. In their losses Seattle has tended to get dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides, and having those two missing in action has been a significant factor.

Rush defense

(Photo by Conor Courtney/Getty Images)
(Photo by Conor Courtney/Getty Images)

When the Cardinals faced the Seahawks in Week 7, Seattle had one of the best rush defenses in the league. What has happened since then, as they are statistically near the bottom of the league in both yards allowed and yards allowed per carry?

In their Week 9 loss to the Ravens by 34 points, the Seahawks gave up 298 rushing yards. That seems to have broken this team psychologically, at least the defense. Ever since then their tackling has steadily been getting worse every week, until they missed 20 in last week’s loss to the Steelers – costing them the game and likely a playoff spot.

Surprises and disappointments

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Wrapping up the regular season, what has been the most surprising thing about the Seahawks’ season and what has been the most disappointing?

The most surprising thing is probably Geno Smith’s late surge. Over his last three starts, he’s been under heavy pressure on pretty much every other dropback, but he’s managed to avoid sacks at a Patrick Mahomes-type level, extend plays and find his receivers. He’s been sensational given the circumstances and has sold me on another year of Geno starting.

The most disappointing is the coaching failures. Tackling is the top issue – if one guy can’t tackle that’s his own fault, but if the entire team struggles tackling for half a season that’s ultimately on the head coach. Pete Carroll has also done his usual hijinks of wasting timeouts on pointless challenges and surrendering on fourth and short. His two punts on fourth and one last week against the Steelers were unforgivable – especially given what we know about the success rate of QB sneaks – Pittsburgh pulled off two of them. Penalties have also been a major problem all season – the mark of an undisciplined team.

Matchups

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Which matchups most favor the Seahawks and which ones are you most concerned about?

Seattle might have the strongest receiver corps in the NFC and it keeps getting better as time goes on. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is now a very strong option on third down and his route tree has developed beautifully over the course of the season. DK Metcalf is still going strong and Tyler Lockett’s numbers are a bit down, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense – including a very high-quality No. 4 option in rookie Jake Bobo. I’ll take the Seahawks receivers against Arizona’s defensive backs – and I’ll also take their DBs against Arizona’s lackluster receiver corps.

All the matchups that concern me are in the trenches, where the Seahawks have been getting pummeled lately – especially their offensive line. With Abe Lucas likely out again whoever is lined up over the right tackle (Stone Forsythe) could have a big game.

Prediction

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Story originally appeared on Cards Wire