Believe it or not, this game will have a huge impact on the NFC West the rest of the season. The Seahawks are tied with St. Louis for the division lead with a 4-4 record. The Cardinals are 3-5 but already have lost to Seattle. Another defeat would make it exceedingly difficult for Arizona to win its third straight division title.
But it’s not like the Seahawks are a juggernaut. They were blasted by the New York Giants, 41-7, Sunday, in a game quarterback Matt Hasselbeck sat out because of a concussion. Hasselbeck is expected to play against Arizona. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have settled on Derek Anderson as their starter, but they’re asking little of him other than to take care of the ball. Two offensive powerhouses, these teams aren’t.
Keys for the Cardinals
• The Cardinals aren’t going to score a lot of points. Anderson has been inconsistent at best, and the running game has been a disaster, with Tim Hightower having fumbling problems and Beanie Wells battling injuries. That’s why it’s imperative the special teams come up big again; LaRod Stephens-Howling has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and should be a Pro Bowl selection.
• Because he’s been so careful not to throw interceptions, Hasselbeck has a tendency to hang onto the ball too long. Cardinals defensive ends Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell have to put some pressure on Hasselbeck, who can still be effective if he has time to throw.
Keys for the Seahawks
• The Cardinals were embarrassed up in Seattle and will be out for revenge. It’s essential the Seahawks survive the initial kick from what will be an emotional Arizona team and fan base. The Seahawks aren’t good enough to make up an early 10- or 14-point deficit, so they have to keep the game tight in the first quarter.
• The best-case scenario for Seattle: It’s able to control the game by rushing running back Marshawn Lynch between the tackles. But that will be harder to do now that Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hayes is healthy and starting. He missed the first game between the two teams with a back problem.
Neither team has exactly impressed the last two weeks, but somebody has to win, and we’re taking the Cardinals because they’re at home and we don’t think Seattle can sweep anybody this year. Cardinals 20-13.