Russell Wilson and the Seahawks face the Cardinals in Josh Rosen's first start
For the Seattle Seahawks (1-2) they picked up a 24-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys in their home opener to give them some confidence. Now, it's time for a trip to the desert to take on an Arizona Cardinals (0-3) team whose season is on the edge of disaster heading into Week 4.
It was a bit of an old school formula that helped Seattle get the job done against Dallas as the Seahawks stayed committed to the run, got the ball out quick in the passing game and forced key turnovers. Chris Carson rushed for 102 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. Russell Wilson completed 16 of 26 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Earl Thomas rose to the occasion despite causing plenty of off-the-field drama by not practicing later in the week by picking off a couple of passes. Head coach Pete Carroll did come out and say that the team is in a good place with Thomas despite his absences from practice.
Arizona is struggling offensively with just 20 combined points in their first three games. Rookie Josh Rosen will make his first start on Sunday replacing Sam Bradford as the Cardinals are coming off a 16-14 home loss to Chicago. Can Rosen be the savior for Arizona? That remains to be seen for head coach Steve Wilks as the Cardinals are 0-3 and need a spark of some sort offensively after turning the ball over seven times in three games. Defensively, it's been a case of a unit that has worn down over the course of four quarters and if the offense can gain any traction then improvement should happen very quickly.
Seattle at Arizona
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Spread: Seahawks -3
Three Things to Watch
1. Russell Wilson vs. Josh Rosen
Wilson heads into this game with a clear advantage experience-wise over Rosen. Wilson tried to do everything in the first two weeks and that is simply not going to work for Seattle in 2018. The reality is a balanced offensive approach where Wilson doesn’t have to throw the ball 30-35 passes is going to be key to his success this season. So, look for the Arizona defense to come at Wilson early and often to force him to be impatient and turn the ball over. Rosen has all the arm talent in the world, but it takes more than arm talent to win at a high level in the NFL. Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is going to have to be careful with Rosen and not force him to have to throw the ball 40 times against a Seahawks defense that is gradually improving as a unit. Bottom line, it will be the quarterback that can keep his offense on schedule and out of long-yardage situations on third down that will come up out on top.
2. Seattle defensive line
Frank Clark leads a defensive line that should have plenty of chances to create pressure on Rosen on Sunday. Clark had two tackles and a sack against Dallas but overall, he was a relentless force that harassed Dak Prescott all afternoon long. Defensive Tackle Jaron Reed picked up a couple of sacks as well against the Cowboys and his ability to dominate the line of scrimmage on Sunday will be a huge plus for the Seahawks. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. should bring a bunch of different looks to the table playing to the strengths of Clark and Reed as it will be very important for them to keep the heat on Rosen all day long.
3. Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson
This duo must get rolling for the Cardinals this week if they are to get their first win of the season. Fitzgerald has a track record in the NFL that speaks for itself as he has 1,246 catches for 15,658 yards in his career. Last week, the Bears limited Fitzgerald to two catches for nine yards, which is very rare, but illustrates the inability of the Arizona quarterbacks to get him the football. Johnson received a three-year, $39 million-dollar contract extension before the start of the season and is off to a sluggish start in 2018. Johnson is a dual-threat running back that needs a combination of at least 20-25 touches through running and catching the football. Just like the Seahawks, the Cardinals must stay committed to the running game with Johnson which in turn will set up Fitzgerald and the rest of the receivers to be more successful in the passing game.
Vegas oddsmakers got this one right as far as the point spread as it should be a one score game regardless of who wins on Sunday. The offensive lines are enough of an issue for both teams that this game could be a "The Pat McAfee Show“ For The Brand classic where the kickers end up deciding this one. If this were to happen, it wouldn’t be the first time that these two teams played a field goal only battle as Seattle and Arizona played to an ugly 6-6 tie back in 2016. In the end, this game will be a slog in the early going while both teams find their way and then break open in the second half with a few big plays by both offenses. The Seahawks should find a way to grind out their second win and if Doug Baldwin is cleared to play on Sunday could potentially win by two scores.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 14
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.