Three key factors to watch for in the Seahawks-Cardinals game
The Times’ Bob Condotta previews the Thursday night duel.
Which team will runneth over?
Arizona’s biggest statistical strength, well, runs right up against Seattle’s — its run defense, which ranks fifth in the NFL, allowing 90.7 yards per game. Seattle, meanwhile, is second in the NFL in rushing per game at 157.7 yards. The Seahawks have been getting a lot of those yards in an unconventional manner, through the scrambling of quarterback Russell Wilson. But combined with the steadiness of Marshawn Lynch (487 yards in six games) the Seahawks remain effective on the ground. The Cardinals, though, have the ability to limit that ground attack and force Seattle to take more chances through the air.
Turnovers can seem a cliché as a key. But given the emphasis Seattle puts on turnovers, it’s hard to ignore. Especially in a game like this, when the disparity is as great as it is. Seattle is tied for third in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-seven while the Cardinals are tied for 22nd at minus-two. That includes 11 interceptions thrown by Carson Palmer, most of anyone in the league other than Eli Manning. The Legion of Boom has undoubtedly taken note.
A classic matchup
The best matchup of this game will occur when Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman faces off against Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a certain future Hall of Famer. Fitzgerald is battling injuries to both hamstrings and might not be in prime form. Still, he remains dangerous, as his 75-yard TD catch-and-run last week at San Francisco illustrated. Sherman typically lines up on the left side and doesn’t usually move around to try to defend a specific receiver. Sherman, though, will relish the chances he does get against a player who has also become a good friend. The two played in each other’s celebrity softball games in the offseason.