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Thursday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction

Pete Carroll

Pete Carroll

Week 10 of NFL "Thursday Night Football" will provide football fans nationwide with a look at two teams in desperate need of a victory. The Seattle Seahawks (5-3) head down to University of Phoenix Stadium to take on the Arizona Cardinals (4-4) in Glendale, Arizona. Seattle was 0-1-1 last season against Arizona as they played to a 6-6 tie on Oct. 23, and lost to the Cardinals 34-31 in Seattle on Christmas Eve.

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The need for a win by the Seahawks was the result of taking last Sunday afternoon off against a depleted Washington Redskins team in a 17-14 loss. Kirk Cousins stepped when it counted the most on the game-winning drive where he completed two huge passes to Brian Quick and Josh Doctson. Offensively, the Seahawks outgained Washington 437-244. Penalties were costly as they committed 16 of them for 138 yards. This loss by Seattle rivals the inexplicable one that head coach Pete Carroll had at USC back in 2009 when the Trojans lost to a Washington Huskies team that was coming off of a winless season.

Arizona picked up a hard-fought win in San Francisco as the Cardinals knocked off the 49ers by a score of 20-10. Adrian Peterson finished with more carries (37) than his age (32), racking up 159 yards and wearing down the San Francisco defense in the process. Drew Stanton completed 15 of 30 passes for 201 yards and two touchdown passes. Defensively, Arizona just grinded it out and didn’t let San Francisco quarterback C.J. Beathard beat them despite allowing 294 passing yards. The Cardinals have an opening to get themselves back in the NFC Wild Card conversation with a win on Thursday night and it will be very interesting to see if they come out fast against the Seahawks.

Seattle at Arizona

Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 9 at 8:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC, NFL Network

Spread: Seattle -5.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Which Seattle team is going to show up?

This is the million-dollar question for the 12s as the last two weeks have shown the best and the worst of this year’s edition of the Seahawks. They should have a bit of a home-field advantage as Seattle fans always travel well for Thursday night games in Arizona. So will the Seahawks feed off of this energy, play loose and try and put the foot on the gas pedal and knock the Cardinals out early or will the lack of discipline carry over? Thus, it will be important for Russell Wilson to try to strike quickly with big chunk plays in the passing game. Also, where is kicker Blair Walsh’s head at after missing three field goals in the loss to the Redskins? If Walsh can’t get right, it’s going to put more pressure on the offense to score touchdowns, especially in the red zone.

2. Adrian Peterson

Peterson turned back the clock last week against the 49ers, but the question is can the 32-year-old veteran running back manage a similar workload (37 carries) on a short week? Peterson is going to featured early and often as head coach Bruce Arians (above, right) is not going to want to risk turning the football over with Drew Stanton at quarterback. The Cardinals also are going to run right at the Seahawks’ defensive line as Frank Clark and Michael Bennett played in 92 percent of the defensive snaps against the Redskins so they will still be a bit worn down from Sunday. Another key to Peterson being successful on Thursday night will be Arizona’s offensive line, which will try and impose its will by controlling the line of scrimmage.

3. Seattle running game

The running game made some incremental progress against Washington as Seattle ran for 148 yards, but still has room for improvement. Wilson ran for 77 yards on 10 carries, and Thomas Rawls ran for 39 yards on nine carries. Eddie Lacy left the game early with a groin injury, so his status is somewhat up in the air given the short turnaround. Look for Rawls to get about 15 carries depending on Lacy’s availability. Wilson should have plenty of opportunities to run on zone read plays to try and slow down the Cardinals’ pass rush. If Wilson plays too tentative and doesn’t take off with the ball, then it could become a long night for the Seahawks.

Final Analysis

Thursday night games have a tendency to be train wrecks when it comes to the quality of play by both teams. Seattle is banged up, and still licking its wounds from Sunday’s disappointing home loss to Washington while Arizona has dealt with its own key injuries and has alternated wins and losses all season long. This game has the look and feel of a low-scoring affair as both offenses can’t be trusted to put up a lot of points consistently. One thing going in favor of the Seahawks is that they have played well in prime time under head coach Pete Carroll, going 20-3-1 since 2010 in Thursday, Sunday or Monday night games. Seattle cleans some things up and makes fewer mistakes as the Seahawks sneak out a close win in the desert.

Seahawks Schedule

Prediction: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 16

— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball. Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWhittum.