Sunday’s matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium this Sunday is about as must-win as it gets for the home team. The Cardinals absolutely cannot be swept by Seattle, as their playoff chances would fall from slim to none.
The Cardinals lost in Seattle a few weeks ago, a place they usually have success in. They have not fared well against the Seahawks in Arizona, having won just one of the matchups there since 2013.
Geno Smith is one of the betting favorites to win Comeback Player of the Year due to his surprisingly stellar play to this point in the season. The Seahawks might also have the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year in Kenneth Walker III and Tariq Woolen.
Let’s dive into this must-win matchup for the Cardinals.
Arizona's offense vs. Seattle's defense
(Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
In what was supposed to be a get-right game for the Cardinals offense in Seattle a few weeks ago, It was quite the opposite, as the Seahawks’ defense has taken a huge leap forward since then.
Weeks 1-5: 13.5% DVOA, 30th
Weeks 6-8: -31.3% DVOA, 1st https://t.co/kQBep070JJ
— Aaron Schatz 🏈 (@FO_ASchatz) October 31, 2022
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have improved offensively since the return of DeAndre Hopkins, but they still suffer from needless errors and questionable play-calling.
The offense as a whole still nets too many penalties and seemingly burns all of their timeouts to avoid a delay of game penalty. There appears to be a disconnect between Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury on many play calls.
Nevertheless, the Cardinals have still scored much more than they did prior to Hopkins’ return. They’re going to need to perform better against a Seahawks defense that, while improving, should be susceptible to the pass.
RB James Conner is on track to return in this game, which would provide a much-needed boost for this team. The Cardinals are at their best offensively when Hopkins is paired with the physical rushing presence of Conner, who has the ability to take over a stalling offense if needed.
Hopkins is likely going to draw coverage from rookie standout Tariq Woolen, who has been phenomenal for the Seahawks. That matchup still favors the Cardinals and Hopkins figures to continue his dominance through his first two games back.
The Cardinals offense must perform at least the way they have been the last two weeks to have a good chance in this one. Defensively, the Cardinals had beat up on Geno Smith and the Seattle offense in their last meetup, but Kyler Murray and company just couldn’t score any points.
It starts offensively and having both Hopkins and Conner back should help.
Seattle's offense vs, Arizona's defense
(AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Here’s a fun stat. In three career games against the Cardinals, Geno Smith has yet to throw a touchdown pass.
The Cardinals’ defense had five sacks on Smith in their Week 6 meeting and only surrendered 19 points. Smith had only 197 yards passing and the team’s leading receiver on the day, Noah Fant, had just 47 yards.
Despite this successful outing, the team lost as a result of offensive ineptitude, but those numbers are very encouraging for the Cardinals in this meeting,
The Seahawks’ offense runs through Kenneth Walker III, who had a nice outing in Week 6 with 97 yards rushing and a touchdown. He’s only improved over the last few weeks and has carried his offense to two victories.
The Cardinals’ rushing defense was abysmal last week, surrendering 111 yards to Dalvin Cook and seemingly giving up at least six yards per carry. That does not bode well against Walker and a run-heavy Seahawks team.
Vance Joseph and the defense must adjust, as letting Walker run free will open up the passing attack for D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, the latter of whom has owned the Cardinals in his career.
Simply put, the defensive success for the Cardinals depends on their ability to stop Walker and this Seattle rushing attack.
S Budda Baker (questionable)
C Rodney Hudson (OUT)
RB James Conner (questionable)
LT D.J. Humphries (questionable)
WR Marquise Goodwin (questionable)
LB Darrell Taylor ( questionable)