Maybe there was a spa-day involved, maybe there were a few yoga sessions, I’m sure there was an abundance of sleep and maybe even a few Netflix shows were binged. It is unclear to me what the Seattle Seahawks did to fill their time during the 2020 bye week, but at the end of the day, we are just happy they got one (Looking @ you Denver Broncos).
The Seahawks were banged up on defense with Jamal Adams and Chris Carson still nursing and playing through an injury that he suffered in Dallas so an early bye week wasn’t the worst thing in the world for a Seattle squad that has been tested and battled until the very last second in their first five games. Now, they are one of just three undefeated teams remaining in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers play the Titans this week and so there is a possibility that just one team stands undefeated come week eight.
But we don’t foresee that being the case because the Seahawks are playing a divisional foe and the juices should be pumping for this one. The Arizona Cardinals will host Seattle after a short week as they come off a massive 38-10 victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
The Cardinals were sensational against a Cowboys team that looked completely lost with Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliot fumbled the ball twice, the defense was bad as usual, and the offense stuttered with Andy Dalton. The Cardinals took full advantage, putting up an early 21 points and not slowing down from there.
The big storyline to watch coming into this game is Russell Wilson versus Kyler Murray. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Russell Wilson is the quarterback that you’d want on your team, but Murray is young and exciting and clearly has a spot in the future of the sport.
The two have a very good relationship already as you will remember that both of these guys could have had professional baseball careers. In fact, when Murray was considering playing for the Oakland Athletics, Wilson helped him make the decision that brought him to the National Football League. It’s a choice that already seems to be paying off for Murray after winning Rookie of the Year in 2019. Murray spoke to The Undefeated in 2019, recalling the conversation he had with Wilson.
“He gave me all types of tips about coming into [the NFL], what you have to do to be the type of quarterback I want to be, just what to expect. Just the knowledge about how to carry yourself, how to establish who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish, you have to appreciate that. But now that I’m here, obviously, we’re competitors. When I compete against him, I want to beat him.”
But enough of the mushy stuff, let’s focus on what will matter in this week eight matchup that will be pivotal when it comes to crowning a division winner.
Seattle concerns me, and just about everyone else, in one major area: their defense. They’re currently allowing way too many yards per game. The most in a single season is 440.1 by the New Orleans Saints in 2012 and Seattle is on pace to break that if they don’t get their act together quickly.
The secondary has been a massive disappointment as teams are averaging over 370 passing yards per game. Jamal Adams has been hurt but even when he was on the field, things were still ugly in the secondary. They are also on pace to shatter an NFL record for most passing yards allowed if some things aren’t figured out quickly. This is why the bye week should come in handy as coaches are able to look at what isn’t working without having to create a game plan for an opponent. I’d expect the strategy to be much better this week against the Cardinals. If not, there may be a serious problem.
For the Cardinals, things are looking pretty good. In Kliff Kingsbury’s second season, he has Arizona at 4-2 and in second place in the toughest division in football. The Cardinals have struggled mightily in two games this season, one against the Detroit Lions and the other against the Carolina Panthers. In both of those games, the defense got torched in the air, allowing at least 270 passing yards,
But the main thing was slowing down Kyler Murray. When the Cards played the Lions, they intercepted Murray three times. When the Panthers played them, he was held to under 140 passing yards. Murray is most often troubled when he is kept in the pocket. It’s when he moves around and gets out of that pocket when he makes dynamic plays. The Seahawks D-line will need to have their best game of the season to slow down a guy that I’m sure has been on their minds the entire bye week.
Keys to the Game:
Control Budda Baker: Baker had seven tackles, a sack, two quarterback hits, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and an interception against the Cowboys on Monday night. This is a guy who could make life miserable for Wilson and company. How do you stop Baker? I literally don’t know, here’s hoping Pete Carroll has a better answer.
Move it with Carson: The Cardinals have the seventh best pass-defense in the league compared to just the 21st best run defense. If the Seahawks hope to pick up chunk yards on first and second down, it may be on the ground. Expect Carson to get more touches in this game than at any other point.
Secondary Step-Up: If there was ever a game for the secondary to step up, it’s against a guy like Kyler Murray. With his scrambling ability, Murray can wait for his guys to get open and Seattle will have to keep a tight coverage on DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.
The Seahawks are favored by three points for the Sunday matchup. These teams split the series in 2019 and Seattle dominated by three scores in Arizona last time around. The Hawks are 7-3 after a bye week with Pete Carroll and have won six straight in that time frame.
Seahawks 31 Cardinals 23