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NFL Network analyst: Palmer, not turnovers, the key to Cardinals’ success Thursday

LISTEN: Mike Mayock, NFL Network Analyst

Thursday, when the Arizona Cardinals take the field against the Seattle Seahawks, there’s no question that their ability to hold on to the football will be paramount.

The Cardinals are second in the NFL in giveaways with 15 through six games, trailing only the 0-6 New York Giants, who have lost the ball 23 times thus far. Last Sunday, the Cardinals’ four turnovers against the San Francisco 49ers lost them the chance at victory.

Quarterback Carson Palmer has already thrown 11 interceptions in 2013 — a mark that is second only to Eli Manning’s 15 picks this season.

Given the team’s struggles to keep the ball, many believe the Cardinals’ fate against the Seahawks Thursday will boil down to turnovers. If they win the turnover battle, many believe, they will stand a chance.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, however, believes there’s more to the matchup than just turnovers.

“You need to go a little deeper,” Mayock told The Doug and Wolf Show Thursday morning.

The former defensive back went on to break down how Palmer’s overall performance — turnovers aside — could be affected by the Seahawks’ defense, which will bring a league-high 17 takeaways into University of Phoenix Stadium, coincidentally.

“You want to talk about the Cardinals and turning the football over? Let’s go to the quarterback position,” Mayock said.

“Carson Palmer is as pretty as it gets when he’s on his spots. If you don’t move him off his spots and he can throw in timing and rhythm, then it’s beautiful. Big arm, accurate — it’s all there.”

Of course, there’s a caveat to that, as the Cardinals’ offensive line hasn’t offered their quarterback the best protection this season.

“Now, when you push him off his spots,” Mayock went on, “when you show color in the pass rush, when you force him to move around and hit him, he’s a different animal.”

So, in Mayock’s words, Palmer has basically been ‘a different animal’ all season. Only five NFC quarterbacks have been hit more than Palmer, who has been taken down for a sack 13 times so far this season. So, quarterback pressure, combined with the Seahawks’ NFL-best defensive back play, is bound to cause Palmer all kinds of trouble Thursday, regardless of whether he turns the ball over or not.

“I look at tonight’s matchup and I think it’s a tough one for Arizona for two reasons,” Mayock explained, “(a) They’re going to get up and they’re going to press all three of your wide receivers and disrupt the timing and rhythm of that offense and (b) the Arizona offensive line is going to have its hands full with a bunch of beasts up front — they’ve got more talent at rushing the passer than any team in the league.

“So, when you combine those two things, you say ‘alright, is Carson Palmer going to have an easy night or a tough night?’ And I think he’s going to have a fairly difficult night because of those two issues.”

Kickoff is at 5:25 p.m. MDT Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium and the game can be heard on Arizona Sports 620 AM.