Keys to the game: Cardinals at Seahawks
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1. Protect the passer.
Only Chicago has allowed more sacks than Seattle after two games, and while Arizona has recorded a very mediocre five sacks so far this season, defensive coordinator
Eddie Ray bHorton came from Pittsburgh. Expect the Cardinals to dial up the blitzes and try, and Seattle must be able to keep Tarvaris Jackson upright without keeping six and seven players in to block every play.
2. Get off to a running start.
Seattle has the fewest rushing yards in the league, but that may have something to do with the level of competition. The Seahawks' first opponent this season -- San Francisco -- allowed the sixth-fewest running yards in the league last season. Their second opponent -- Pittsburgh -- allowed the fewest. Establishing the running game against Arizona would be a strong first step toward their first victory of the season.
3. Prevent the big play.
The Cardinals already have three passes of more than 40 yards in two games this season, including two touchdown completions of 70 yards or more. Pittsburgh converted eight of 15 third-down plays against the Seahawks last week, so Seattle must improve its nickel defense if it's going to keep Arizona from controlling the ball in Sunday's game.
Three keys to Cardinals victory
1. Keep the secondary sound.The Cardinals are allowing 343 yards per game, fourth-most in the league. The Seahawks average the fifth-fewest passing yards at 144. One thing is for certain, these two teams can't both be that bad this weekend. Through two games, Seattle has completed just one pass of more than 20 yards.
2. Limit Seahawks receiver Mike Williams.
That might not be all that tough. He has not been targeted on a pass in the first half of either of the first two games, something that should change considering the opponent. In two games against Arizona last season, Mike Williams caught 22 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown, more than a third of his production for the year. He has caught five passes for 43 yards so far this season.
3. Contain defensive end Chris Clemons.
He was Seattle's leading pass rusher last season with a career-high 11 sacks. Three of those sacks came in the two games against the Cardinals, and he also forced a fumble. The Seahawks have two sacks in two games so far this season, and getting the pass rush going would be a long way toward improving the defense.
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald vs. cornerback Brandon Browner. Seattle's starting right cornerback had a tough day last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose wideouts are as speedy as they get in the NFL. Fitzgerald is one of very best in the league at the point of attack, going up and over the defense. "He's almost like a rebounder in basketball," cornerback Marcus Trufant said. At 6 feet 4, Browner is built for this kind of big and physical challenge, but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy.
One of these two teams has won the NFC West division title for the past seven years. Seattle won both meetings last season, sweeping the season series for the first time since 2005. The Cardinals have won six of the previous nine meetings between the two teams.
Information in this post, originally published Sept. 24, 2011, was corrected Sept. 25, 2011. A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Arizona's defensive coordinator was Eddie Horton. It is Ray, who is a graduate of Mount Tahoma High School and the University of Washington.
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