Seattle Seahawks (0-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
When: 1:15 p.m. PT
Where: CenturyLink Field; Seattle, WA
TV: FOX Channel 13 (Commentators: Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Drea Avent)
Radio: 710 ESPN Seattle; 97.3 KIRO FM (Commentators: Steve Raible, Warren Moon)
This Sunday, the dormant Seahawks offense looks to awaken as Seattle gets set to take on the Arizona Cardinals in the home opener at CenturyLink Field. Last Sunday, the Seahawks were shut down offensively, not reaching midfield until the 4th quarter en route to a 24-0 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
The play calling from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was conservative to say the least, and QB Tarvaris Jackson was not asked to make many deep throws down the field. The longest offensive play was a fullback pass to Eddie Williams, who was just signed off the Cleveland practice squad.
The defense had their opportunities, including a pick six possibility for LB Aaron Curry, but he was not able to make the play. In the end, the Steelers defense was too much for Seattle.
This week, the Cardinals come to town for a suddenly crucial early season contest. Lose this, and the Seahawks are 0-3 and staring at Atlanta the following week. Win, and they will have the same record as Arizona, and will have confidence heading into the Falcons game, also at home. The Seahawks are a different team in Seattle, but do they have the talent this year to win these games?
The first two games on the road have featured an atrocious offense, coupled with an average defense. Injuries have plagued the offense so far this year, but the 'Hawks will have to deal with this for the near future, as reports out of team headquarters indicate OL Robert Gallery will miss 4-6 weeks with a groin injury.
The already young, inexperienced offensive line will be tested even more with the loss of Gallery. For the most part, Jackson was protected well in the Steelers game, but that can also be contributed to the conservative offensive scheme.
On the other side of the spectrum, the running game was non-existent as usual, and this can be contributed to the blocking up front. The push the Steelers generated was way too much for even Marshawn Lynch to overcome. Lynch has to be frustrated with the lack of a running game, and in order to win this week, the 'Hawks have to show some semblance of a ground attack.
On the positive side, all reports indicate WR Sidney Rice will make his regular season debut this Sunday. He is rumored to have a torn labrum, the severity of it unknown. Therefore, head coach Pete Carroll and his staff have been cautious with Rice, and will continue to do so if the season continues to go south. But, with Rice on the field this week, the offense does receive a boost.
Jackson has built some chemistry with Rice in Minnesota, and he'l need to complete several passes to Rice if Seattle were to be successful. Another key to this game has to be Mike Williams. The feel good story for the Seahawks last year, Williams has gotten off to a slow start, and that has to change fast.
Arizona's defense is average at best, and their young, inexperienced secondary can and will make mistakes during the game. Williams should use his large frame to create space in the defense and give Jackson a window to complete some passes. If Rice and Williams can play like they are capable of, Seattle will put up some points.
On the defensive side, the big news this week in practice was when Pete Carroll indicated LB Aaron Curry will not start against Arizona. Instead, rookie LB K.J. Wright will take his place in the starting lineup. This is significant news because it indicates coaches are more impressed with Wright, a fourth round "reach" pick, than Curry, a fourth overall pick.
Curry, who once was considered the safest pick in his draft class, has not lived up to the expectations that come with a top five pick. Maybe this move will spark a fire in him, or maybe it will signal the beginning of the end. For the most part, as a unit, the linebackers have held their own in the first two games, and they'll need a similar effort Sunday.
The secondary, especially first year man Brandon Browner, was torched in Pittsburgh by Ben Roethlisberger and company. Browner was no match for WR Mike Wallace, who made Browner look foolish on a couple of occasions.
On the other side of the field, Marcus Trufant once again turned in an average performance. The aging cornerback must step up his game and take control of the defense. The safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, had their good and bad moments last Sunday. But Seahawks fans should be delighted in the potential these two have for years to come.
The Steelers run game was contained for the most part, aside from the TD run by Isaac Redman in the first half. This can be credited to the defensive line, who have really meshed well early in the season. Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane are a stout defensive duo in the middle. But to add to their effectiveness, the line needs to get to the passer more often, and that starts with Chris Clemons. His primary goal is to put pressure on the QB, and he has not done so early on in the season. That must change starting this week, as Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb can get flustered when under pressure in the pocket. He had shown a tendency to rush his throws and make rash decisions when he doesn't have enough time to survey the field. Therefore, if Clemons and company can wreak havoc in the backfield, the Seahawks will have a chance.
For Arizona, CenturyLink Field has been problematic in years past. The Cards offense has had trouble generating a lot of points, in large part due to the 'Hawks home field advantage.
This Sunday will mark the first time Kevin Kolb has played in Seattle as a starter. It will be interesting to see if he can stay composed and lead the offense on sustainable drives down the field. If he cannot keep his composure, Arizona is in trouble. Their defense is not good enough to shut out the Seahawks like Pittsburgh could. They have to score points, and this Sunday, that might be difficult with the Seattle crowd behind the defense.
This is a crucial game for both teams. A divisional game is always vital, but this one seems to have a bit more significance. An 0-3 start for Seattle likely signals a double digit loss season, and a loss for Arizona means they're tied with the 'Hawks. The cliche line often used with the Seahawks is that they are a different team at home, because the crowd can lead them to victory.
As cliche as that is, it is true, especially when the Cardinals come to town. Pete Carroll indicated the playbook will open up this week, and that is a good sign for Seattle to put up some points. Tarvaris Jackson needs to instill some confidence into the fan base, and what better way than to do so with a home victory. The return of Sidney Rice means a successful passing game for Jackson, and the return of the 12th man will propel the defense into forcing a couple key turnovers.
In the end, the Seahawks will rack up their first win of the season, 27-17.