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2015 Regular Season
Preview: Cards @ Seahawks

Last MInute News, Rumors etc.:
Sendlein is still listed as Questionable as of Sun. AM. So is The Beast (however, if Marshawn can't go, Rawls has the same running style and can be a load to bring down. .

Setting the Stage:
Both teams are coming off a Bye. Cards are 6 & 2. Seahawks - at 4 & 4 - are two games behind - having lost to the Rams, Packers, Cincy and Carolina - and are also being challenged in the division by the upstart Rams. The Seahawks barely escaped with a 13 - 12 win over the Cow Boys in their previous game. Cards started erratically but wound up on the good side of a 14-point victory over the Browns.

Opponent's Last Game
Seattle squeaked by the Cowboys in a 13 - 12 "pitchers battle" marked by long drives by each team punctuated by 3 & outs. Statistically, both teams pretty much played things "close to the vest" (i.e. very little chunk yardage/drives resulting in FG's rather than TD's). The one thing that leaped out were the 7 receptions by Graham.

First Quarter
Seattle received. TB on the KO. A 19-yard completion to Graham and a 16-yard pass to T Lockett were key plays in a 12-play (6:13) drive that ended on the Dallas 8-yard line with a 26-yard Hauschka fG. Ra. Seahawks 3 - Cowboys 0.

TB on the KO. A 12-yard run up the middle by McFadden was the key playof a 15-play (8:04) scoring drive that wound up at the Seattle 15 with a 33-yard FG. to tie the game. (Wow! The two possessions - one for each team - ate up all but 0:43 minutes of the 1Q. .Seahawks 3 - Cowboys 3.

The 1Q ended two plays later - Seattle ball, 3rd down on their own 24..

First Quarter Score: Seahawks 3 - Cowboys 3.

Second Quarter
Seattle finished up a 3 & out. Punt was fair caught at the Cowboy 23. The two teams exchanged another set of 3 & outs. Punt by Dallas was out of bounds at the Seattle 35. Seahawks picked up a 1st down on a 12-yard run by Lynch and another 1D on a 19-yard Wilson-to-Wilson hookup. After a n 11pass to Baldwin put the ball on the Dallas 22, Wilson hit Wilson once again - this time on a seam route - for a 22-yard TD Play was challenged but upheld (Wilson broke the plane of the goal line). Seahawks 10 - Cowboys 3.

5:29 till halftime. TB on the KO. A 24-yard scrmble by Cassell helped sustain a 10-play (3:55) drive capped by a 35-yard Dallas FG. Seahawks 10 - Cowboys 6.

TB on the KO. 1:34 till the half. Seattle (hampred by a motion call on Lynch) stalled out of a 3 & out at its own 26. R Lockette was blindsided and injured on the punt. Dallas ended the 1st half with a knee at its own15.

First Half Score: Seahawks 10 - Cowboys 6.

Third Quarter
Dallas received and mounted another time-consuming drive ending in a FG. This one used up 6:09 and took 12-plays that ended on the Seahawk 34 with a 52-yard FG. Longest play of the drive was just +11 yards (on a run by McFadden). Seahawks 10 - Cowboys 9.

R Lockette (concussion but retaining feeling and motion in all 4 extremities) was seriously injured on the KO. Seattle went 3 & out. Punt was returned to Dallas 21. Their drive fizzled at their own 47. Punt was downed at the Seattle 5. After moving to their own 34 on 5 plays, Wison's pass for Hardy was intercepted and returned to the Seattle 34. A 4-yard run off-tackle by McFadden ended the quarter.

Third Quarter Score: Seahawks 10 - Cowboys 9.

Fourth Quarter
Dallas moved to the Seahawk 9-yard line and settled for a 27-yard FG (Missed opportunity for Dallas to open up a 6-point lead) . Cowboys 12- Seahawks 10.

TB on the KO. Seattle moved from its 20 to the Dallas 29 but had to settle for a 47-yard FG. But the FG attempt was blocked and Dallas took over on their own 27 but were held to 3 & out. Punt (net a holding penalty) gave Seattle the ball on their own 15-yard line with 6:41 on the clock. They used 5:35 of the available time on a 17-play drive that ended at the Dallas 6 with a 24-yard Hauschka FG. Gains of +11 (pass to T Lockett), +15 (pass to Baldwin) and +10 yards (scrammble by Wilson) were the longest gaining plays of the drive. Seahawks 13 - Cowboys 12.


TB on the KO. 1:06 left. ASeattle TD on a sack/fumble recovery on the 2nd play from scrimage touchdown was reversed (declared an incomplete pass instead of a fumble. The best Cassell could do was move to his own 35 where - on 4th and 16 a minus-8 yard sack by Avril pretty much wrapped things up. Incompletion. Knee. Over.Seahawks 13 - Cowboys 12.

Final Score: Seahawks 13 - Cowboys 12.

Seattle vs.Rams - Significant Game Stats

Wilson was 19 of 30 for 210 yards, 1 TD's and 1 interception.

Seattle ran the ball 25 (non Wilson) times. Lynch gained 71 yrds on 21 carries. Rawls picked up 10 yards on 4 carries. Wilson scramble for 32 yards on 6 carries. (Note - Wilson's value as a ball carrier is the percentage of carries that "are successful" - i.e. avoids being sacked, picks up a 1st down etc. If we have time, I'll check that stat out).

Leading Seattle receivers were Graham (7 for 75 yards ) and 4 other guys with 2 - 3 grabs for 11 - 41 yards.

Seattle Run/Pass Ratio was 31 run/30 pass.

Seahawks were minus-3 in takeaways, losing 4 fumbles and no interceptions.

Seattle held McFadden to 64 yards on 20 carries. Cassell scrambled 4-times for 42 yards.

K Wright led the Seahawks with 9 tackles followed by Chancellor (6) and Thomas (5), Wagner (5) and C Williams (5)).

Irvin had Seattle's only sack. Wilson was not sacked.

Net punting yards (Ryan had 46.3) 2.3 yards farther than the Dallas punter.

Each team was penalized 5 times for 40 yards.

Seattle was 5 for 12 (41%) in 3rd down efficiency. They held Dallas to 4 for 14 (28%).

Both teams had goose-eggs in Red Zone efficiency. Seattle attempted 2/Dallas attempted 3.

Time of Possession: Seattle: 29:38 / Rams:30:22)

Seattle Cumulative Season Stats
(Note - May be a game or so "old")

First Downs: Seahawks 147- Opponents 133.

3rd Down Conversions: Seahawks 41 of 109 - Opponents 31 of 99

4th Down Conversions: Seahawks 4 of 5 - Opponents 1 of 3

Total Yards Offense: Seahawks 2,825 - Opponents 2,279

Rushing Yards: Seahawks 1,116 (4.6 ypc )- Opponents 788 (3.8 ypc). Lynch leads the team with 375 yards on 103 attempts (3.6 ypc). Rawls is next with 376 yards on 69 carries (5.4). Wilson has scrambled for 303 yards on 58 carries.

Rush/Pass Ratio: Seahawks 245/234

Passing - Wilson completed 161 of 234 passing attmepts for 1878 yards (8.0 ypa), 9 TD'S and 6 interceptions. Wilson was sacked 31 times (compared to 20 for their opponents).

Receiving - Their TE Graham not surprisingly leads the Seahawks with 38 catches (450 yards - 11.84 ypc). Next two leading receivers are Baldwin (31 catches) and Kearse (21 catches)

Turnover Ratio: minus-1

Tackles - Wright leads Seattle with 58 followed by Wagner (51), Chancellor (already) (38) and E Thomas (37).

Sacks - Seattle has have a 31 - 20 sack deficit. Bennett leads the team with 6.5 sacks followed by Irvin (4.5) and Avril (3.5).

Interceptions: Interception deficit here too (Seattle picked off 3 passes/their opponents intercepted 6). Thomas leads the team with 2.

Time of Possession: Seahawks 31:52 - Opponents 30:18

Field Goals: - Hauschka is 18 for 19 (His one miss was between 40 - 49 yards).).

Punting: Ryan is averaging 47.6 gross yards. Of his 40 punts, 5 were tpouchbacks. 12 more were inside the 20.

Punt Returns: Seattle punt returners have returned 25 punts for 259 yards. (opponents have returned 15 for 242 yards).

Kick Returns: T Lockett is the main man - 14 returns for 356 yards (25.4 ypr). Opponents have returned 15 kicks for 354 yards (354 ypr).

Seattle Offense

WR....89 Baldwin.......16 T Lockett......11 Daniels      
LT......76 Okung..........78 Bailey
LG.....68 Britt...............67 Sokoll                    
C.......62 Nowak.........65 Lewis...........61 Jeanpierre                  
RG....64 Sweezy.........63 Glowinski  
RT.....79 Gilliam.             
TE.....88 J Graham.....82 L Wilson......84 Helfet
WR,,,15 Kearse..........13 Matthews....xx Richardson
QB....03 R Wilson.......07 T Jackson                           
RB....24 Lynch...........22 F Jackson....34 Rawls.........30 Brown        
FB....46 Tukuafu..... ..40 D Coleman

Cardinal Defense

DE        93 Campbell..........90 Redding
NT        95 Gunter...............69 X Williams                
DT        92 Rucker..............73 Mauro........72 Stinson                    
SLB      52 Woodley.......... 44 Golden       
ILB       55 Weatherspoon.             
ILB       51 Minter...............59 Fua                    
WLB    54 Freeney.............96 Martin.......56 Riddick........57 Okafor (inj)       
LCB     21 Peterson                   
RCB    25 Powers.............28 Bethel...35 C Brooks               
SS       36 Bucannon.........22 Jefferson              
FS       32 Mathieu............26 R. Johnson.....

Matchup: Seattle Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
PFF ranks Wilson #8 QB in the NFL. He can beat you with his arm or with his legs. His receivers are solid though not elite - top pass catcher is their expensive TE Graham. (He started slowly but caught 7 passes in his most recent game. Wilson has suffered from a weakness in pass protection (31 sacks compared to 20 by the elite Seahawk sack patrol), but he can still beat you with his legs (Note - his high sack total may be a result of his willingness to operate outside the pocket). Top Seattle pass blockers are their center (Novak) and their LT (Okung) but even they're ranked ranked just #25 and #34 respectively by PFF.

Cardinals are not known for their pass rush. Best that can be said is that they mount enough pressure to make opposing QB's get rid of the ball but aren't racking up elite sack numbers. Cards get most of their pressure from edge guys like Freenie Golden and Okafor (in rotation) and Campbell from the inside. Interesting commentary from BA at the beginning of Bye week singled out Martin, Riddick and Fua as youngsters who have made good progress. Don't be surprised, then, if we see more of those rookies as the season progresses (and matchups dictate).

Key Matchups: Freeney vs, Okung. Card DL (in rotation) vs. Seattle OL. Mathieu (as a spy) vs. Wilson. Bucannon vs. Graham. PP and Powers or Bethel vs. Baldwin and T Lockett

Matchup: Seattle Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Strength of the Seahawk offense is its rushing atack. Although Lynch is their beast, Rawls is a load to bring down as well. Seahawk run/pass ratio is a healthy 50-50. Their ground game coupled with an opportunistic defense helps them win low-scoring games and also enables Wilson to operate more freely behind the LOS.

Cards have been in the Top 5 in run defense for most of the season. They've proved they can handle Lynch when they commit to it, but the danger is that lack of position-depth will cause their interior defenders to wear down late in games.

Key Matchups: Minter and Bucannon vs. Lynch or Rawls. Campbell vs. Okung.


Cardinal Offense

WR1     11 Fitzgerald..13 Jar Brown......10 Golden   
LT         68 Veldheer....79 Sowell                       
LG        76 Iupati.........62 Larsen                     
C          63 Sendlein....53 Shipley                    
RG       61 Cooper                   
RT        70 Massie.......78 Watford.........74 Humphreys                     
TE        85 Fells...........87 Niklas           
WR2    15 M. Floyd.....12 John Brown...14 Nelson              
QB       03 Palmer........05 Stanton.........09 Barkley        
RB       38 Ellington.....27 C Johnson.....31 D Johnson.....30 Taylor,
TE        84 Gresham

Seattle Defense

LDE....72 Bennett......55 Clark.............95 Dobs
LDT.....77 Rubin.........93 King      
RDT....92 Mebane......97 Hill      
RDE....56 Avril............91 Marsh 
OLB...51 Irvin.............57 Morgan.........53 Moody  
MLB...54 Wagner             
OLB....50 Wright........58 Pierre-Louis    
LCB...25 Sherman.....28 Burley
RCB..26 C Williams...21 T Smith
SS ...31 Chancellor....35 Shead...........33 McCray     
FS.....29 E Thomas....23 Terrel
l

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Seattle Pass Defense
Palm
er has experienced streaks where he's been close to unstoppable, but he's also hit occasional speed bumps (usually under pressure) where his decision-making has been flawed and he either throws into a crowd or holds onto the ball to long and takes a sack. Although the Cardinal OL has by and large kept Palmer "clean", you get the feeling that Carson is a split-second away from getting hammered.

Cards are blessed with talent and depth at WR with Fitz, Floyd, John Brown, Jarod Brown and JJ Nelson. Jeremy Gresham is beginning to fit in at TE and Niklas caught two TD passes turning a Cardinal position weakness into a an emerging strength.

Strength of the Seattle team is its defense - especiallty on the edges, where Avril, Irvin, Wright and Bennett wreak havoc. The return of Chancellor to line up with Earl Thomas and Sherman returns the Seattle secondary to past glory. Pass rush has not been a Seahawk strength through the first part of the season, but their edge rushers and safeties have the street-creds that make you think they can crank things up a notch when they need to ).

Seahawks pride themselves on not getting beat deep (To paraphrase Pete Carroll: "No matter how hard you hit, whether you give up a lot of inside nickel or dime stuff or how well you cover or stop the run, if you give up long TD's, you're not a very good defense. Everything keys off the ability of Thomas and Chancellor to keep everything in front of you.").

Key Matchups: Veldheerand Iupati vs;. Irvin, Avril, Bennett or Wright. Cardinal RB's or WR's wearing out Seahawk edge-guys with screens and quick throws to the perimeter.

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Seattle Run Defense
Cards are stacked three deep in quality RB's with C Johnson, Ellington and David Johnson available depending on matchup tendencies. Seattle hasn't been as tough against the run this year as they have in the past. (3.8 ypc isn't shabby, but it's not as good as it's been in the past). The return of Chancellor at safety makes the Seahawks more physical and opportunistic.

The addition of Iupati to pair up with Veldheer on the left side has turned a Cardinal weakness into a strength, enabling the Cards to control contests late in games. Sendlein (shoulder) may be out, and it then becomes up to AQ Shipley to step in at center. Although earlier tape of Shipley suggested that he could be mandhandled by opposing defenders, the PFF rankings show him performing on equal footing to Sendlein in run blocking and somewhat better in pass pro. Key potential challenge the stats don't cover will be Sendlein's or Shipley's ability to make visual line calls in one of the loudest hostile fan environments in the nation.

Key Matchups: C Johnson and his blockers vs. Chancellor, E Thomas and Wagner. Veldheer and Iupati vs.Hill and Mebane. Look for Cards to possibly wear out Avril, Irvin and Wright by getting the ball to all three RB's on the perimeter and working receivers into action with bubble screens, flares etc.

Special Teams

Seattle

       09 Ryan                    
K       04 Hauschka                       
H       09 Ryan 
LS     49 C Gresham                                
KR    16 T Lockett                        
PR    16 T Locke
tt

Cardinals

K          07 Catanzaro                             
P          02 Butler                                   
H          02 Butler                             
LS        82 Leach                                  
KR       31 D Johnson.....10 Golden          
PR       21 Peterson........14 Nelson...........10 Golden

Matchup: Seattle Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
T Lockett is this years version of Sproles or Austin. Best strategy, kick it out of the end zone or punt it out of bounds. Cards haven't been all that explosive in the return game are using Peterson more
and more. Maybe that will change now that JJ Nelson is close to healthy. Catanzaro has been pretty solid as a kicker, but hasn't proved he's 100% trustworthy.His counterpart (Hauschka) can win games with his foot - lack of TD's (at least in the Dallas game) has placed a greater burden on his shoulders (& he's delivered). Ryan is a better punter than Butler.

Key matchups: Bethel and Mathieu vs. Lockett. Bethel and Campbell vs. Hauschka.

Coaching
Pete Carroll and the Seattle staff have been quietly blazing trails in what might best be called a "New Age" coaching philosophy (i.e. less "tough love"., "Lombardi Football" etc. and more respect for the individual player and a focus on individual-improvent over rarher than "grinding them down and building them back up"). Approach seems to have proved quite successful in the past. The question this year is whether the "Hawks can remain faithful to that philosophy in the midst of (what for them might be considered) a tough season.

AZ: Bruce Arians continues to assume the roll of "Daddy Bullfrog" and chief truth-teller. So far the team has bought in (despite having to deal with the adversity of losing two winnable contests). What some of us are wondering is how well the team will continue to buy into BA's coaching MO after one or two losses.

There's no reason why the team and its coaches shouldn't remain tightly knit - it's just that in the NFL, talk is cheap and you never know whether what flows out of a team's Hq is just "noise" that sounds good or whether it's the truth.

Last Word
Bye week can take a team in two different ways - the team can come back from its "vacation" lethargic and rusty or it can come back re-energized and ready to kick ass. with the Cardinals, all signs are positive but, it's really hard to tell. One thing's for sure - The game in Seattle after the Bye week will give us a better idea what kind of football team the Cardinals really are. (Want motivation? Check out the Nov. 6 USA Today sports section. They don't think the Cards will make the playoffs. Nose to the grindstone during Bye week; let's prove 'em wrong.


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