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Cardinals' Key Three-Game Stretch Starts Against Seahawks

Team trying to avenge loss in Seattle last month

Cornerback Marco Wilson (20) and the Cardinals defense played well against the Seahawks in the first meeting.
Cornerback Marco Wilson (20) and the Cardinals defense played well against the Seahawks in the first meeting.

When the schedule was released, Kyler Murray hoped for another fast start to the season. That hasn't been the case with the Cardinals' 3-5 record through eight games.

But that's OK. The season is far from over, with several conference teams in similar boats, and the NFC West race is anything but decided.

The Cardinals' next three matchups are NFC West opponents, starting with the division-leading Seahawks (5-3) Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

"We have a great opportunity in front of us," Murray said. "But we have to go 1-0 this week. Seattle is playing good football, plays hard, and is well-coached.

"We know what's coming in here. We have to be prepared and execute on Sunday."

Riding a three-game winning streak, quarterback Geno Smith continues to be a revelation for Seattle. The October NFC Offensive Player of the Month has completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,924 yards this season, sporting a 13-to-3 touchdown-interception ratio. Smith ranks top-five in quarterback rating (66.6) and passer rating (107.2).

Despite the loss of running back Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Walker lll has stepped up in a more prominent role, rushing for 351 yards and four touchdowns on 62 carries in the last three weeks.

The Cardinals had just nine points, a season-low, in the Week 6 division meeting in Seattle. The offense struggled to score points at the time, but they're better now and closer to reaching their full potential.

The return of Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins is a reason for that. Hopkins missed the first meeting against Seattle, serving his six-game suspension, but he's back and productive as expected. Hopkins has 262 receiving yards on 22 receptions and a touchdown in two games since returning. Hopkins is on pace for 1,441 yards on 121 receptions and five touchdowns, according to ESPN.

"I'm not surprised at all," Hopkins said. "I put in a lot of work and had a great team around me during those six weeks to make sure when I got back, there wasn't any drop off. First game I felt good, second game I felt even better. Hopefully, I keep improving as the year goes on."

Understandably, the urgency inside the Cardinals' locker room is at an all-time high. Kliff Kingsbury echoed Murray about the opportunity they have.

But the Cardinals have to take advantage of the mission, starting Sunday against the Seahawks in Glendale.

"There's not a lot of wiggle room left for any sort of letdowns," the head coach said. "We know where we stand and what we have to do moving forward. The time is now to get it done."