The Seahawks are prepped and ready for a pivotal Week 11 showdown against the Cardinals on “Thursday Night Football.” The NFL’s midweek primetime game often offers eye roll-inducing matchups that lack much league-wide relevance.
However, this contest features a pair of 6-3 rivals that are jockeying for position in the NFC West. A win for either team is paramount, but much more so for Seattle. A loss would give Arizona a season sweep and the tiebreaker should these two teams finish the year with the same record.
Here are the five most pressing storylines that will determine whether or not the Seahawks can get the job done.
1. Can the pass rush get to Kyler Murray this time around?
Seattle’s defense notably didn’t register a single quarterback hit or sack against Murray in Week 7. The addition of Carlos Dunlap and return of Jamal Adams should help in that regard. So should the Seahawks more aggressive strategy from a blitzing standpoint. Still, Murray has only been sacked 13 times all season, and his elite athleticism only adds to the challenge of bringing him down.
2. Will Russell Wilson bounce back?
Banking on a significant turnaround from the Seahawks defense feels like a fool’s errand. That’s why it’s far more likely (and important) that Wilson snaps out of his month-long slump. Taking what the defense gives him rather than forcing throws that aren’t there will be vital for Wilson. Simplifying his thought process will also be crucial against the blitz-happy Cardinals.
3. Will Carlos Hyde handle most of the workload in Seattle’s backfield?
Seattle’s offense will benefit from Hyde’s return, even though Chris Carson isn’t likely to play. Now we will wait to see how carries are distributed between Hyde, Bo Scarbrough and DeeJay Dallas. Hyde should see most of the work, especially considering Pete Carroll’s stated desires for increased balance offensively. Scarbrough was flexed up from the practice squad as Alex Collins can't be flexed up again (can only do so twice) and Seattle opted not to give him an active roster spot this week.
4. How will DK Metcalf fare in Round 2 against Patrick Peterson?
Metcalf has had two quiet performances this season. One came against Peterson in Week 7 (two catches for 23 yards) and one came against Jalen Ramsey in Week 10 (two catches for 28 yards). Peterson will surely be shadowing Metcalf again on Thursday night.
Wilson needs to be more proactive about giving Metcalf chances despite a tough matchup. Brian Schottenheimer can also manufacture some easy touches for his young phenom, whether it be on screens, jet sweeps, short stopping rounds and slants or motioning Metcalf away from Peterson.
Whatever the case, it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks beating the Cardinals if Metcalf is shut down again by Peterson. Tyler Lockett playing through a sore knee only emphasizes that fact.
5. Who will win the turnover battle?
The Seahawks don’t have a big enough margin of error in their wins to be able to afford losing the turnover battle. Seattle is 6-0 when having a neutral or positive turnover differential and 0-3 when that number dips into the negatives. The Seahawks are a combined +8 in wins and -7 in losses in this category. It has been a cut and dry subplot to each of Seattle’s games so far, and there’s no reason to believe that will change on Thursday.