Despite being 9-5, the Arizona Cardinals’ playoff chances are low unless they win their final two games.
And the first of those two games looks pretty ominous on paper, as the Cardinals take on the NFL-leading Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. Not only have the Seahawks only lost twice all year, but they haven’t been beaten on their home field in nearly two full calendar years — Dec. 24, 2011 to be exact.
The Cardinals face terrible odds in the game, but Brock Huard, radio host for 710 ESPN in Seattle, told Burns & Gambo the Cardinals may have a shot if the team focuses on a couple of the Seahawks’ few areas of weakness.
“If you’re going to nitpick something over the last month of the (Seahawks’) season, it’s been the run game,” Huard said. “Marshawn (Lynch) has averaged 3.2 yards a carry over the last four weeks. High-water mark is 72 yards. He’s come nowhere close to even the productivity he had down in the desert against Arizona. And Arizona’s front seven has never played better.”
Lynch ran for 91 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries in Oct. 17 against Arizona. Huard admitted the Cardinals, who have won six of the last seven, are a more formidable squad than the one Seattle saw back then, when the Seahawks prevailed 34-22.
However, he said Arizona will have a tough time if it can’t contain Seattle’s rush offense.
“If you tell me that Marshawn gets 75-85 yards on the ground Sunday, I think Seattle has an incredible chance to win and cover the number,” the former Washington Huskies quarterback said.
In turn, Huard said, if Seattle can’t put forth a competent rush, then the game “could be a bloodbath” in the Cardinals’ favor.
As for the Cardinals’ offense, the radio host said the team has done better since the teams last met with getting on the same page and figuring out how to block for quarterback Carson Palmer.
“From my view, Coach (Bruce) Arians has done a nice job of protecting Carson better and getting the ball out of his hand — and maybe not relying upon some of the drop-back passing they did earlier,” Huard said. “Because you’re not going to be able to do that — not in the environment in Seattle; the noise is off the charts.”
Huard added that the Cardinals’ running game needs to be strong to take pressure off the team’s offensive line, or else Palmer will “get hammered — again.” Palmer was sacked seven times in the teams’ last meeting.
“You’d better get ahead, and you’d better be able to establish it at the (offensive) line. And if you don’t do those things, I don’t think you have a chance to win in Seattle,” Huard said.
The host’s final key for the Cardinals was to try the sucker the Seahawks into committing penalties. He said penalties were a primary cause of the Seahawks’ only two losses on the year.
“Offensively, you have got to put the pressure on them,” he said. “You’ve got to try to create some of that separation. You have got to put your force into that play to also draw some of the penalties.
“Even though it is a 12-2 team — and I think the best team in the NFL — they’re not without some of their own warts.”