Keys to the game
A key to Seattle’s victory in Arizona was its ability to constantly pressure Carson Palmer. Seattle’s seven sacks were a season high. However, Arizona’s offensive line has improved. And while Palmer remains hardly mobile, the sacks have subsided and that’s one reason why Palmer has been more consistent lately. He had a passer rating of 110.0 in November and has a rating of 100.1 in December. Seattle’s defensive line, meanwhile, is coming off one of its best games of the season, holding the Giants to 25 yards rushing last week, the fewest allowed by the Seahawks since 2002.
Seahawks taking flight?
Seattle begins every game with the goal of using the run to set up the pass. But with Arizona featuring a stingy run defense and a suddenly injury-riddled secondary, the Seahawks might take to the air a little more. Arizona gave up 402 yards passing last week to Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was Arizona’s first game without rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Mathieu was emerging as one of the top rookies in the Class of 2013. Then last week, safety Rashad Johnson suffered an ankle injury and is likely out for this game. That could force backup rookie safety Tony Jefferson into the starting lineup. The Seahawks will likely notice.
Arizona’s defensive resurgence has been sparked by a dangerous front that has helped the Cardinals amass 41 sacks this season, tied for seventh in the NFL. The leader of the sack pack is 35-year-old John Abraham, signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in the offseason. Abraham, who has 133.5 career sacks, ninth on the NFL career list and first of any active player, leads the Cardinals with 11.5 sacks, playing an outside linebacker position in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. He’ll be a tough matchup for the Seattle tackles Breno Giacomini and Russell Okung.