Game preview: What you should know about Seattle at Arizona
This is a prime chance for Seattle (1-2) to get back to .500 before the Los Angeles Rams (4-0) come to town next Sunday. Lose to the Cardinals, and the Seahawks would be staring a 1-4 start right in the face. Win on Sunday, and the worst-case scenario would be heading to London to face Oakland (0-3) with a 2-3 record.
For the Cardinals (0-3), the season is pretty much lost in terms of reaching the postseason. The top priority now for first-year coach Steve Wilks is to develop rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and figure which direction to go in at other positions in the offseason.
How and where to watch
Time: 1:05 p.m., Sunday.
Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
TV: FOX 12, Portland.
Radio: Portland, KFXX, 1080 AM and Portland, KGON, 92.3 FM
Rookie defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) and outside linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) are out.
Left guard Ethan Pocic (Ankle) and backup running back C.J. Prosise (abdomen) are doubtful.
Listed as questionable but expected to return is wide receiver Doug Baldwin (knee). Also set to return are center Justin Britt (shoulder) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (ankle).
Running back Chris Carson (hip) is listed as questionable but is expected to play.
Arizona has no players listed as being out.
When Seattle has the ball
The return of WR Doug Baldwin should elevate Seattle’s offense a great deal, especially against Arizona’s aggressive defense. His absence in the first three games (he was injured about five minutes into the opener at Denver) has taken away QB Russell Wilson’s go-to target in most precarious situations. His 29 touchdown receptions since 2015 rank second to Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (34).
Arizona’s defense hasn’t played horrible. The Cardinals rank 19th against the pass (261 yards per game) but have allowed just three touchdown passes in three games. They rank 29th against the run (131.3), but have faced the second most amount of carries (106) and its 3.7 yards allowed per carry ranks tied for ninth.
Arizona is tied for 10th with eight sacks.
“They just bring a lot of pressure,” Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said.
When Arizona has the ball
Arizona, last in the NFL in scoring at 6.7 points per game, will start rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, who saw his first action last week against Chicago.
Ideally, Arizona would like to protect Rosen with a strong running game. But the Cardinals rank last in rushing (58.3) despite having an elite back in David Johnson, who is averaging just 38.7 yards per game and 3.4 per carry.
A lack of a rushing attack and a rookie running back should lead to major troubles against a Seattle defense that appeared to come to life last week against Dallas with five sacks and three forced turnovers.
“They still have a great front,” Arizona coach Steve Wilks said. “Bobby Wagner is still one of the true leaders of that defense as well as Earl Thomas. They are still playing up to the standards of the Seattle Seahawks.”
By the numbers
Minus 3: Seattle is favored by a slim margin on the road.
2-12: Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s road record in September. Both road wins came in 2013, the year Seattle won the Super Bowl. The Seahawks lost their first two road games of this season.
21.7: Seattle’s points per game, which ranks 17th in the NFL.
292.3: Seattle ranks 27th in the NFL at 292.3 yards per game.
19-18-1: Arizona leads the all-time series between these two teams and has won two of the last three, including the final game of last season when the Cardinals knocked Seattle out of the playoffs.
At first glance, a point spread of minus three appears to be ludicrous. But, Arizona last week lost 16-14 to a Chicago team that beat Seattle 24-17. So the spread actually makes sense. The difference, however, is that the Bears would have won by much more had quarterback Mitchell Trubisky been able to find and hit open receivers, which were plentiful. But Russell Wilson doesn’t miss such great opportunities and he should have plenty more than usual with the return of Baldwin.
Then factor in that Seattle’s defense will be facing an even young quarterback in Rosen, and this would appear to be an easy win for Seattle. That said, rarely is anything as easy at it seems to be in the NFL. Seattle should win, but Arizona’s defense is good enough to keep things interesting before the Seahawks pull away late.
Final score: Seattle 24, Arizona 13.