Five things to watch for in the Cardinals-Seahawks game Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle:
Offense aside from Fitz
The Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald have proven that Fitz is going to get his catches. The 34-year-old receiver is having another great season and has a chance to lead the NFL in receptions for a second straight year. But the Cards need to find other avenues of offensive production as they go up to Seattle. In the past, guys like Andre Ellington and J.J. Nelson and Michael Floyd have played big roles in victories in a difficult place. Fitzgerald will definitely be used – when quarterback Drew Stanton started in Seattle and lost in 2014, Fitzgerald was hurt and didn't play – but getting a big play somewhere else (plus a steady run game) is crucial.
Not letting Wilson squirm away
Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher was talking about how important it was to bottle up Seattle's run game because there may be no more dangerous down against the Seahawks than second-and-5. That's when quarterback Russell Wilson has everything at his disposal, a run, a bootleg pass, whatever. It's already hard enough containing Wilson, who stunned the Cardinals with a back-breaking pass to Doug Baldwin after somehow escaping both Chandler Jones and Tyrann Mathieu on second-and-forever in the teams' previous meeting. Containing Wilson is the goal. Actually accomplishing it seems impossible at times, yet so important for the Cards to have a chance.
Noise like the Cards have never heard – except for all those trips to Seattle
Stanton told a story from the last time he started in Seattle where he fully expected to be able to yell – loudly, to be sure – to combat the noise at CenturyLink Field. Instead, he couldn't even be heard in the huddle, much less at the line of scrimmage. The Cards are prepared for that. But this will be the first Seattle test for rookie left tackle Will Holden, and silent count or not, holding up in that stadium is difficult for any player.
Success in Seattle
If there is one thing the Cardinals have done since Bruce Arians became coach, it is find a way to win in Seattle. In four previous games, the Cards have won three. To be fair, in each of the wins Carson Palmer has been quarterback, and in the one loss, the QB was Stanton – who will be under center Sunday. But the way the Cards' defense has been playing, the Cardinals should be in this game, and there is definitely nothing the Cardinals would like than to knock the Seahawks out of the playoffs with a win at CenturyLink Field.
One game before a future to-be-determined
No one knows exactly how the offseason is going to play out for the Cardinals. But whatever happens, it's not going to happen until this game is over. So Fitzgerald probably had the best take on it this week, noting that whatever might happen on Monday doesn't make a difference this week. If it's a swan song for some or not, the Cardinals would simply like to get a win against a division rival, at a place where it is satisfying to win. The offseason – and changes, whatever they might be -- will arrive soon enough.