On Sunday, the 6-4 Seahawks host the 9-1 Cardinals. It is the most important game the Seahawks have played all year.
Next Thursday, the Seahawks go to Santa Clara to play the 49ers on Thanksgiving night. It will be the most important game the Seahawks have played all year.
And so on.
Six games remain. While they might not all be “must win” games, the Seahawks can’t afford to lose very many more. At the most, the Seahawks could reasonably lose 2 games and – with help – still clinch a Wild Card spot. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, as last year these very Cardinals went 10-6 and were aced out of the playoffs. This year, as many as seven teams in the NFC are in the hunt for 10 or more wins; and that’s not counting the NFC South which is guaranteed to have one of the coveted six playoff spots by way of someone winning that shitty division. For an NFC South team to get to ten wins, either the Falcons or Saints would have to win out; I don’t think anyone expects that to happen.
More realistically, the Seahawks need to go 5-1 to be assured of a playoff spot. Not impossible, but the way they’ve played for practically the entire season, it doesn’t feel too probable. They’re REALLY going to have to turn it on, starting this Sunday.
To get to 5-1, the Seahawks will likely need to win all their remaining home games, of which there are three. In that sense, this Sunday’s game IS “must win”. Not only that, but the Seahawks will have to find a way to go 2-1 on the road, against the 49ers, Eagles, and Cardinals.
The one flaw to the title of this article is: if the Seahawks lose their next three games, that’ll be it. There won’t be any more important games on the schedule, because there won’t be any playoffs in our future. These are truly frightening times.
I can’t say that I feel great about our chances this Sunday, but I’m starting to come around. It’s just so fucking DAUNTING! When I look at the Seahawks, I see a team ravaged by injury, who has had an opportunity to win every single game, but has come up short in four of them. When I look at the Cardinals, I see a team ravaged by injury, who has had an opportunity to lose multiple games, but has come up with the necessary big plays in all but one. It’s like two people running the same marathon next to one another: the Seahawks are out there gasping for breath and battling leg cramps; the Cardinals are out there with a bounce in their steps, singing along to the music coming out of their headphones. You look over, and you know they’re going through the same Hell that you are, and their enjoyment of said Hell just makes yours all the more damning.
The way the Seahawks win this game is all on the defense. Fortunately, Arizona runs a style of offense that plays right into our hands. They don’t rush the ball all that well, and they like to take deep shots down the field. Our secondary is more or less intact and should be able to shut down the deep throws. So, it’s going to boil down to how well we stop the run in the second game without Mebane. Hopefully adjustments have been made since the Kansas City game. Either way, the Cards just aren’t that good at it, so hopefully they don’t find their way on our watch.
On the flipside, the Cardinals have a great defense, especially against the run. So, don’t count on Beastmode having a typical Beastmode day. That means it’s going to come down to Russell Wilson. If he’s able to throw for 300 and/or rush for 100, we’ll probably win this game. If he’s struggling with his accuracy like he’s done of late, or if they’re able to contain him within the pocket, it’s going to be a long, ugly day.
Gun to my head: I’m expecting the latter. The long, ugly day. Another 17-10 type game like we had here last year. With Lynch pretty much neutralized, I have my doubts as to how we’re going to score. The Cards still have a lot of talent in the secondary, so you can bank on Doug Baldwin being a non-factor. With Zach Miller on the shelf, if we don’t get anything from our remaining tight ends, it’s going to come down to Jermaine Kearse and our rookie receivers. I’m going to need Kearse to do his best Golden Tate impression, high-pointing balls and making big catches in traffic. I know he CAN do it, but he sure has shit hasn’t done it all that often this season.
If our offense isn’t able to do its job – which it probably won’t – I worry that this game will look a lot like last year’s home game against this team. The Cards will try and try and try all game to take shots down field, eventually striking at the worst possible moment late in the game. It’s been their M.O. all season. Why wouldn’t it continue now, with the Seahawks reeling, a shell of their former selves?
If you ask me, the line in this game is insane. That’s the only thing that gives me pause. The Seahawks favored by 6.5? I get it, they’re at home, but come on! Even if I thought the Seahawks were their 2013 selves, this game is destined to be a close one with these two defenses on the field, right? What am I MISSING? How is Vegas THIS sure of a Seahawks victory that the line hasn’t moved considerably in Arizona’s direction?
If I were a betting man, I’d put every cent in my bank account on the Cardinals to at least cover. I’d probably even put a good amount on the Cardinals to win outright. All signs point to the Cardinals being the better team this year, and in this game, in spite of Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury. Truth be told, I’d probably be MORE confident of a Seahawks victory if Palmer was actually playing. But, I’ve been wrong before, and I look forward to being wrong again.