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Five Things To Watch: #SEAvsAZ

A look at the top storylines for Thursday's game


Five things to watch for in the Cardinals-Seahawks game Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium:

All Day, part II

Adrian Peterson just had 37 carries Sunday. Whether he gets a ton again doesn't mean as much as that he gets the ball first in the Cardinals' offense. With Drew Stanton at quarterback, the run-first mentality is now etched in the Cards' identity – even Bruce Arians is saying as much. And grinding out the games against the Seahawks always made a little more sense, so their defense couldn't easily come up with game-changing plays. The Seahawks are going to be ready for Peterson and a lot of him. They'll get it.

Making Seahawks a little less dangeRuss

It's hard to argue that there is a quarterback in the league that makes more nothing plays into something than Russell Wilson. The Cardinals have seen it up close and personal more times than they would like. DC James Bettcher says the Cards will be aggressive but smart in their approach to handling the slippery Wilson. But there is no real way to plan for Wilson's improvised moves. For the Cardinals, it'll be about limiting how impactful they will be. It doesn't hurt that the Seahawks' running game – aside from Wilson's scrambles – is fairly non-exisitent.

The Legion of Boom, shorthanded?

The stats have shown over the years that a Seahawks' secondary that doesn't have safety Earl Thomas is at a decided disadvantage compared to one with him. Thomas and his bad hamstring are probably going to sit – he's officially doubtful -- and as good as fellow Boomers Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor are, the Cardinals can perk up in the passing game if Thomas sits.

We see you spinning, Dwight Freeney

Hello, old friend. The Seahawks lose defensive end Cliff Avril, and – like the Cardinals did back in 2015 when they had injuries – they find future Hall of Famer Dwight Freeney on the street, still a couple of hours from retiring when at the last second he decides to play again. He hasn't had a lot of snaps, but he's already got a couple of sacks. Bigger picture, that's what the Cards must guard against. Their offensive line didn't give up a sack last week, a combination of better protection, a heavy-duty run game, Stanton's mobility and the Niners' shortcomings. The Seahawks have a better pass rush, whether it's Freeney or Michael Bennett or Frank Clark. The run game has to work, and then the Cards have to protect. At some point, passes will be needed.

Intensity up in the short week

The short week is an issue on a tangible side because guys are still sore and beat up. That can't be avoided. But it's the gearing up emotionally that can take a toll. This is a matchup in which the team with greater intensity takes the edge, and for whatever reason in this rivalry, it's been the visiting team. The Cards switched that up last year (despite ending in a tie) and have to maintain that energy. This scenario has played out before. In Arians' first season in 2013, the Cards hosted the Seahawks on Thursday night. The Seahawks came out on top. The Cardinals must use the short week and having home field to their advantage.

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