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Behind Enemy Lines: Cardinals visit Seahawks in Seattle

It’s the “Battle of the Birds.”

Sunday night, the Arizona Cardinals (6-2) visit the Seattle Seahawks (4-4) at CenturyLink Field in the first of back-to-back Football Night in America appearances.

The Seahawks won both meetings between the teams last season — 19-3 in Seattle and a 35-6 blowout win in Glendale, a game in which Seattle rolled up 596 yards and Ryan Lindley played quarterback for the Cardinals.

The last time Arizona’s Carson Palmer faced Seattle — Week 16 of 2013 — the Cardinals scratched out a 17-10 win, breaking the Seahawks’ 14-game home winning streak.

Both teams are coming off of their bye week, and the Cardinals can really make things difficult on Seattle in their quest to win a third straight NFC West title. An Arizona win would give them a three-game bulge over the Seahawks with just seven regular-season games.

All week, we’ll keep you updated on everything going on in Seattle as the Seahawks prepare for the Cardinals.


seattlelogoFriday, November 13

Earl Thomas’ job description: Own two routes, and don’t get greedy (ESPN.com)

Thomas will be in the spotlight Sunday evening when the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer is averaging an NFL-best 9.18 yards per attempt, and the Cardinals have produced 37 pass plays of 20 yards or more, third most in the league.

Five reasons the Seahawks can beat the Cardinals (ESPN.com)

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Seahawks currently have a 12 percent chance of winning the division. With a win, that number would bump up to 22 percent. But with a loss, it would fall all the way down to 3 percent.

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch gives $500 to McDonald’s worker in Dallas (ESPN.com)

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, after a win against the Cowboys on Nov. 1, stopped at a Dallas-area McDonald’s where an employee offered him a compliment.

Seahawks’ matchup with Cardinals could signal sea change in NFC West (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

At 6-2, the Cardinals enter the contest with a two-game lead on the Seahawks in the division race. A win would give Arizona a three-game lead with seven to play. It would also drop the Hawks’ in-division record to 1-2 while elevating the Cards’ NFC West mark to 2-1. (A team’s division record is the second playoff tiebreaker, following head-to-head matchups.)

Seattle Seahawks give cornerback DeShawn Shead a little money and a lot of faith (Seattle Times)

A $25,000 bonus given by the Seahawks to cornerback DeShawn Shead this week showed the team’s faith in his ability and appreciation for his value.

Richard Sherman: Points more important than interceptions for Seahawks’ defense (MyNorthwest.com)

It must be killing cornerback Richard Sherman that Seattle’s defense has only picked off three passes through eight games, tied for fewest in the NFL. Sherman has more interceptions than any player in the league since 2011 yet he has none since Week 15 of last season, the longest stretch of his career. That’s got to be eating at him, right?


seattlelogoThursday, November 12

Russell Wilson, Seahawks having major issues vs. the blitz (ESPN.com)

It’s a touchy subject for a reason: Russell Wilson and the passing game have produced disastrous results when opposing defenses have sent pressure this season. That’s a major storyline this week with the Arizona Cardinals coming to town. The Cardinals have blitzed on 44 percent of pass plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That’s second-most in the NFL.

Marshawn Lynch, Chris Johnson battle for NFC West’s top running back (ESPN.com)

Beast Mode. CJ2K.

They’re two of the best nicknames in football and they call the NFC West home. Arizona’s Chris Johnson is having a resurgent season and has already surpassed his rushing total from 2014, while Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch has slowly returned to the form he’s terrorized the Arizona Cardinals with in past years.

Seattle Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane set to return after long recovery from Super Bowl injuries (Seattle Times)

Cornerback Lane could play Sunday night against the Arizona Cardinals, though the Seahawks have three weeks before they must put him on the 53-man active roster.

Seattle Seahawks to start Patrick Lewis at center against Arizona Cardinals (Seattle Times)

The Seattle Seahawks will go back to Patrick Lewis at center for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals ahead of Drew Nowak, who began the season as the starter.

Seattle Seahawks excited to add Paul Richardson to offense (Seattle Times)

The Seahawks will welcome back receiver Paul Richardson Sunday against Arizona hoping to revive a passing game that has lagged at times in recent weeks.

Seattle Seahawks – Looming Showdown With Arizona Will Make Or Break Their Season (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

With eight weeks remaining in the 2015 season, Seattle currently sits two games behind 6-2 Arizona and a half game behind 4-4 St. Louis. If Seattle wins this Sunday coupled with a Rams’ loss, the Seahawks have a chance to go above .500 in their division record, overall record, and potentially leapfrog the Rams in to second place in the NFC West, and pull within one game of the division lead with seven weeks to go and a second matchup with all three division rivals to strengthen their lead.

Game of the Week: With Palmer back, Cardinals will give Seahawks run for their money (FoxSports.com)

A year later, and that Cardinals offense may be as different as any unit in the NFL (offense or defense) since that point. In the chaos of a season ago, the Cards were forced into one of the ugliest brands of offensive football, but they now play as proficient offensively as any team in the league. This weekend’s matchup between these two NFC West foes is a prime example of the potential uselessness of historical stats between football teams — this is a completely different Arizona offense.


seattlelogoWednesday, November 11

Seattle Seahawks need more from offense in second half (ESPN.com)

A look at the highs and lows from the first half of the season for the Seattle Seahawks and what to expect in the second half.

Time for Seahawks to show they are contenders? (ESPN.com)

Every weekday morning, we’ll round up local and national Seattle Seahawks-related links.

Seahawks work out seven, make moves to practice squad (ESPN.com)

After practice Monday, the Seattle Seahawks worked out the following seven players (with former colleges): QB Jake Heaps (Miami), TE Cameron Clear (Texas A&M), TE Chase Coffman (Missouri), DB Jonathan Dowling (Western Kentucky), DE Glenn Foster (Illinois), DB Keon Lyn (Syracuse) and TE Harold Spears (New Hampshire).

Even with Jimmy Graham, Seahawks’ red-zone struggles persist (Seattle Times)

The Seahawks are in a position that was hard to imagine when they traded for Graham this offseason: They are the NFL’s worst team in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on a league-worst 29 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line.

November is usually turning point for Seattle Seahawks (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Those searching for reasons to think the Seattle Seahawks are ready for a second-half resurgence can take solace in the darkness and gloom that accompany these next few months in the Pacific Northwest.
Pete Carroll is 9-2 in November over the past three seasons. In December during that span, he’s even better — 12-2.


seattlelogoTuesday, November 10

Is Seahawks’ defense playing at Super Bowl-caliber level? (ESPN.com)

The group up front has been consistent and productive each week. The Seahawks have posted a sack rate of 7.3 percent, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Last year, that number was 6.6 percent (11th), and in 2013 it was 7.3 (fifth).

Michael Bennett has been disruptive all season and has a team-high 6.5 sacks. Defensive end Cliff Avril has been arguably the team’s most consistent defender with 3.5 sacks. And LB/DE Bruce Irvin has also done a good job with 4.5 sacks.

What’s slowing Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch down this season? (ESPN.com)

There are plenty of theories floating around Seattle about why Lynch’s production has slowed. Has it simply been the result of poor blocking? Is the sample size (103 carries) too small to draw any conclusions?

Assessing the Seattle Seahawks’ playoff odds at midseason (Seattle Times)

By doing nothing last week, the Seattle Seahawks’ odds of making the playoffs got better.

That’s the way numberFire.com sees it, anyway, giving the Seahawks a 23.74 percent chance to make the playoffs this week, which is 5.08 percent higher than last week (the losses by St. Louis and Atlanta surely played into that).

Seattle’s chances of winning the division also went up slightly, by 0.72 percent, to 6.88 percent, according to numberFire.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane returns to practice after gruesome injury in Super Bowl XLIX (Seattle Times)

Lane was officially listed as returning to practice Monday after having spent the first eight weeks of the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list while recovering from knee and wrist injuries suffered in Super Bowl XLIX.

Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett on being fined by NFL: ‘It never makes any sense’ (Seattle Times)

Seattle’s star defensive end wasn’t real happy with a fine he received for a hit at the legs of Cowboys QB Matt Cassel. Meanwhile, Dallas’ Jeff Heath was not fined for his hit on Ricardo Lockette.

Seattle Seahawks’ midseason grades (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Writer Adam Lewis hands out marks for the two-time defending NFC champs.

Pointed comparison: Where the Seahawks’ offense struggled the most in the first half of the season (MyNorthwest.com)

Through eight games, the Seahawks are averaging more yards than at the midpoint in any of Russell Wilson’s three previous seasons as Seattle’s quarterback. Yet Seattle’s offense has scored fewer points than any season since 2012, when the coaches were trying to limit the amount of weight being placed on their rookie quarterback for fear that everything would cave in around him.

But this is about more than just Wilson. This is about an offense that turned over three starters on its line only to then deal with a hamstring injury to running back Marshawn Lynch while also working in new tight end Jimmy Graham.

Michael Bennett says Bruce Arians is a coach he’d want to play for (ProFootballTalk)

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said Monday that Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is one of the few coaches in the league he’d like to play for.

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