coleryan Posts:11966 Followers:20
On 12/17/2013 06:20 AM in NFL

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

The Arizona Cardinals are quietly putting together a great season that could result in a playoff berth, but it won’t be easy as they head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The Seahawks are off a dominating win on the East Coast as they crushed the New York Giants, but will get a much better team this weekend. The Cardinals could make the world take notice if they can beat the Seahawks and end their dominant winning streak. Read More

Check back all week as this thread will be updated on a regular basis with information on this game and a free pick by gameday!

coleryan Posts:11966 Followers:20
12/17/2013 02:55 PM

In the aftermath of the interception fest, a 23-0 victory that inched them closer to the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs and undoubtedly ensured a sweet cross-country flight home, the Seattle Seahawks needed to execute a final part of their game plan before business was finished at MetLife Stadium.

They had to hold the company line.

In case you haven't heard, Super Bowl XLVIII will be staged here in 49 days and the Seahawks (12-2) can virtually smell the path to come back here for the big game.

Naturally, there would be questions about this. Lots of them.

"I'm not even worried about that right now," said Earl Thomas, the brilliant free safety for a unit that allowed a season-low 181 yards and picked off Eli Manning five times. "We're going to keep grinding and get ready for the next opponent."

Go ahead, work the locker room. The theme was hardly coincidental.

"We've got a game next week," wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. "That's all we're focused on."

Carroll, who wistfully recalled watching Giants games on black-and-white TV as a kid, even insisted that he's yet to think of playing here for all the marbles.

That's one of the takeaways from Sunday's whitewash. In addition to the affirmation that Seattle's physical defense is so capable of dictating the flow of the game when the offense isn't completely clicking, the team has this one-game-at-a-time mantra down.

During the week, anticipating the return-to-New York queries, Seahawks captains demanded that players respond accordingly.

Straying from that message would not go over well in the locker room.

If they keep winning, they won't have to leave Seattle again this season until a trip to MetLife on Feb. 2.

But, of course, you didn't hear that from them.

"We've been sticking to that one-game focus all season long," Sherman told USA TODAY Sports. "Just because we're playing at the stadium where the Super Bowl will be doesn't change the mind-set."

Other parts of the game plan worked, too, at least against the reeling Giants (5-9). Although the offense sputtered, converting just three of 13 third downs, Wilson kept rolling through his progressions — he found Marshawn Lynch for a season-high six catches and game-high 73 yards — to help generate enough points for a safe cushion.

And the defense, stung a week earlier in crunchtime in a loss at the San Francisco 49ers, bounced back with a vengeance. It was nearly a perfect game. The Giants (shut out twice in a season for the first time since 1996) mustered 12 first downs and were 1-for-10 on third downs. They crossed midfield once, during fourth-quarter garbage time.

Carroll said the pass coverage was the best he has had from his defense since becoming Seahawks coach in 2010. Thomas maintained the key to that came with disguises that kept Manning guessing. He mentioned new wrinkles, an indicator that one of the league's best defenses won't sit pat.

Sherman — who intercepted two passes — maintained that another boost came from Manning. And not because of his underthrows of fade routes. Manning said during the week that he wanted to take advantage of the over-aggressiveness of the Seattle defenders.

Of course, that struck a nerve with Sherman.

"He said they had routes to do that with," Sherman said. "You never want to hear that."

Sherman saw a quarterback entering the game with 20 interceptions, and admits, "I wanted to take advantage of him. But it's easy to see a guy with 20 picks and then he comes out and throws for five TDs on you. So we had to be disciplined, give him his total respect. We studied our butts off."

It worked. Byron Maxwell matched Sherman's tally with two interceptions. Thomas had the other.

By the end, the Giants were so overmatched it seemed the Seahawks were competing as much against themselves. In describing the play in which he tapped the football for Thomas to intercept, Sherman said, "I owed him one."

How's that? On a Hail Mary throw that Sherman picked off before halftime, he actually stepped in front of Thomas to make the play.

It was that type of day.

coleryan Posts:11966 Followers:20
12/18/2013 04:15 PM

The Arizona Cardinals team that comes to CenturyLink Field on Sunday features, among other things, the NFL’s No. 1-ranked run defense.

That also happens to be the only defensive category where the Seahawks aren’t No. 1, as they rank atop the league in average yards (279.5) and average passing yards (174.2) allowed. But the Cardinals are allowing an average of 83.2 rushing yards per game, as well as 3.6 yards per carry which ranks No. 2 behind the New York Jets (3.2).

In a game where the Seahawks can clinch the NFC West title, a first-round bye in the playoff and home-field advantage throughout the postseason with a victory, the Cardinals’ stingy run defense provides grounds for concern because the Seahawks’ running game has not been as productive in recent weeks.

After rushing for 211 yards against the Falcons in Atlanta in Week 10, the Seahawks have had 93, 127, 86 and 134 in the past four games. And, after running for 145 yards against the Falcons, leading rusher Marshawn Lynch has averaged 55.3 against the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.

“Good teams playing us and missing some opportunities; some penalties a week ago made a huge difference in what happened,” coach Pete Carroll said in his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media when asked about the difference between what was going on against the Falcons and what has been happening the past month.

Despite running for fewer yards the past month, Lynch continues to find the end zone. He had a 2-yard touchdown run against the Giants that was his fifth TD in the past four games – and 11th rushing TD this season.

Carroll isn’t troubled by the diminished yardage totals.

“I think we’re OK,” he said. “We’re still going to pound away at it and keep working, keep getting our numbers and our attempts up there. It’s a matter of breaking one. It makes a difference in those stats something.

“But the attitude about it is right and we’re on it and we’re consistent with it. So I’m fine about it. We’d like to get more production and I would think it will happen. We’re going against the best rush defense in the NFL, so that’s going to be a great match for us. But we’re still going to pound away at it.”

coleryan Posts:11966 Followers:20
12/19/2013 02:37 PM

The Seattle Seahawks reached the Super Bowl the last time they earned home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

They can secure home field again with a win Sunday over the visiting Arizona Cardinals - who would be all but eliminated from postseason contention with a loss.

With just Sunday's game against Arizona and next week's contest versus St. Louis remaining, Seattle (12-2) could be playing at CenturyLink Field until the Super Bowl, should they get that far. The Seahawks, who have won 14 regular-season home games in a row since losing Dec. 24, 2011, to San Francisco, lost Super Bowl XL to Pittsburgh after finishing with the NFC's best record in 2005.

"Here we come this week and there's nothing new, which is a good thing. We're going to make the most of what we got," said coach Pete Carroll, who can clinch his second division title with Seattle and the third of his career. "I would've wanted it as soon as we could've won it and dealt with that challenge, but right now I think we understand clearly what we're trying to get done here."

Seattle was dominant at MetLife Stadium - the site of this year's Super Bowl - in a 23-0 victory over the Giants last week. The Seahawks gave up a season-low 181 yards and the league's top pass defense (174.2 ypg) intercepted Eli Manning five times, including two each by corners Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell.

Sherman, whose six interceptions are tied for the NFL lead, has four picks and two fumble recoveries over his last four games versus Arizona.

"All the guys contributed, the linebacker and everyone contributed," Carroll said. "The fact that we stayed on top of the deep ball really well again and when they threw it, we were there to challenge the ball as well as played tight coverage underneath. So there was some really cool stuff."

The Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer seven times and intercepted him twice in a 34-22 Week 7 win in Arizona. The Cardinals (9-5) have won six of seven since, with Palmer's 106.0 passer rating among the NFL's best during that stretch.

"We're starting to get a lot of confidence as a team," Palmer said.

Prior to this year, he lost his only other previous start in Seattle, throwing for 342 yards with two interceptions in a 24-21 loss for Cincinnati on Sept. 23, 2007.

"Obviously, they're confident for a reason," Palmer said. "They've won a lot of football games, they've won at home, but we've been playing well the past couple of months. It's a big game for them, a big game for us."

Arizona, which has already clinched its first winning season since 2009, wouldn't even ensure itself of a playoff spot with a win Sunday followed by a home victory over the 49ers next week. The 11 wins would tie a franchise record. The 2008 New England Patriots are the only club during the 12-team format to miss the playoffs despite winning 11 games.

''The last time we were there, obviously everyone knows what happened," coach Bruce Arians said of Arizona's 58-0 loss at Seattle last season. That was one of 11 losses in 12 games to close the year, leading to Ken Whisenhunt's firing.

"That wasn't we, that was another team. So this is our barometer to see where we're at," Arians said.

While Palmer is expected to play despite nursing a sprained ankle, his primary target may not. Larry Fitzgerald's streak of 104 consecutive games played could be in jeopardy after he suffered a concussion late in the Cardinals' 37-34 overtime win at Tennessee last week. Arians sounded optimistic as Fitzgerald continues to follow the league's concussion protocol.

Seattle has limited Fitzgerald to 82 yards on seven catches and no scores in the last three matchups.

"He's following the protocol, and I think the next step in exercise," Arians told the team's website. "He's fine so far with what he's been doing."

Keeping Russell Wilson in check will likely be a point of emphasis given the season-high 394 yards passing the Cardinals surrendered last week to the Titans. Wilson has yet to lose at home in his career, recording a 119.2 passer rating with 29 TDs compared to six interceptions.

Marshawn Lynch ran 21 times for 91 yards and a touchdown in the teams' meeting. Arizona has limited opponents to an average of 69.4 rushing yards per game and two scores in seven games since.

It's not clear if Percy Harvin (hip) will play. He has only appeared in Seattle's Week 11 victory over Minnesota.

Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was suspended indefinitely Wednesday by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy. Browner hasn't played since Week 10 and won't be able to file for reinstatement for a year. His contract expires at the end of the season.

Seattle, which has won five of the last seven meetings, can tie the all-time series at 15 wins each with a victory.

stormy1114 Posts:54 Followers:0
12/20/2013 04:06 PM

love arizona in this game with the points

coleryan Posts:11966 Followers:20
12/20/2013 10:26 PM

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (concussion) and quarterback Carson Palmer (elbow, ankle) are both questionable for the Cardinals, who are unlikely to have safety Rashad Johnson (ankle).

Wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip), guard J.R. Sweezy (concussion) and linebacker K.J. Wright (foot) are out for the Seahawks, whose injury report is otherwise made up of probable players.

coleryan Posts:11966 Followers:20
12/20/2013 11:05 PM

The possible loss of Fitzgerald is the last thing that Arizona wants going up against a defense that leads the league in allowing just 279.5 yards and 14.6 points per game.

Fitzgerald leads Arizona with 73 catches and 10 touchdowns, while wide receiver Michael Floyd is second with 58 receptions and four scores. He does top the Cardinals with 919 receiving yards and all 24 of his receptions over the past six games have gone for first downs.

Andre Roberts (38 receptions) would likely see a bigger role if Fitzgerald can't play, though Palmer and Arians have the option of giving a bigger workload to backs Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall.

Mendenhall has five rushing touchdowns in his last five games, while Ellington is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and another 10.3 yards per catch. The rookie out of Clemson is filling the role of a dual-threat and said he is just trying to bring a spark to the offense.

"The guys that we have on this offense are capable of doing the same things that I am doing," said Ellington. "Coach is calling the right plays at the right times and I am taking advantage of it."

Maxwell has taken advantage of his chance, stepping in with Brandon Browner having missed the past four games with a groin injury and Walter Thurmond sitting out the last three while serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy.

The 25-year-old Maxwell has three interceptions in the last two weeks and eight passes defended over the previous three.

"Well he's been very productive and very consistent as we had hoped he would do. We'd hoped that he would jump in there and just take off like he has been," said Carroll of Maxwell.

Maxwell's play could soften the blow of Browner's suspension, which was handed out on Wednesday and covers an indefinite period after the cornerback lost his appeal for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

Carroll would also like to get Lynch going ahead of the playoffs as his back owns just three 100-yard rushing games on the year. He has been held under 100 yards in four straight and seven of the last nine and faces off this weekend against an Arizona defense that is giving up an NFL-low 83.2 yards per game on the ground.

"We're not changing depending on the team that we're playing. So we're going to come out running the ball and try to get our running game going," said Carroll.