A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Seahawks game Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.:
'bout stopping that action, boss
Marshawn Lynch is, shall we say, quirky. He didn't even go into the locker room at halftime of last week's game in Kansas City, instead staying in the frigid temperatures of the sideline to get his aching back worked on. But he's still able to get to Beast Mode, and he's been on a tear the last couple of games. As usual, the Cardinals' run defense – third in the NFL – will be tested. With a Seahawks' pass offense that doesn't exactly rival the Packers, slowing Lynch on the ground is (and always has been) crucial. It's a plus for the Cardinals that starting Seahawks center Max Unger is injured.
Run, run, run the ball, gently down the field
Last season's win in Seattle featured a late TD pass from Carson Palmer to Michael Floyd. The memory is dominated by Palmer's four interceptions before that. But what got lost was the fact Bruce Arians ran the ball 43 times that day (for 139 yards). It's not typical. And it's not easy to picture right now, not the way the Cardinals' run game has slogged along the past couple of games. But the Seahawks are missing their best run stuffer in Brandon Mebane and the Cardinals figure to try and mitigate the chances of turnovers. Asking for more than one win with four interceptions seems a bit of a reach.
Images of last year's memorable victory over the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field
Less DangeRuss in the pocket
The Seahawks let Golden Tate leave as a free agent and then Percy Harvin ended up being a bad seed and getting cut. Tight end Zack Miller is hurt. It doesn't leave a lot of quality receiving options for quarterback Russell Wilson outside of Doug Baldwin. One way Wilson has coped? A handful of 100-yard rushing games, and he's running more than he ever has. Last season, the Cardinals had linebacker Daryl Washington keeping an eye on Wilson, who was terrible in that game at Seattle. Is it Deone Bucannon's turn to play I spy?
Protect and (it will) serve
Drew Stanton hadn't thrown an interception all season. Then he threw two against Detroit. As we've said, taking care of the ball is paramount, especially in a place like Seattle. It will be chilly. It very well could rain. Mistakes can happen. But Stanton has to dodge the kinds of interceptions he threw last week, either staring down a receiver or making too much of an assumption on what the defense is doing. The Seahawks' pass rush isn't quite as overwhelming as it was last season. The Cardinals, and Stanton, can make this work.
Getting upset at the CLink
Sure, the Cardinals are underdogs despite having a three-game edge in the standings. It's hard to argue, with how well the Seahawks play in their home building. But if the Cardinals can keep the game close, you could see the crowd getting a bit restless (and depending on how the Seahawks' offense is doing, maybe even a little salty.) A loss all but ends the Seahawks' hopes to win the division, so they have much more at stake than the Cardinals. The question becomes whether the Cardinals can take that backs-to-the-wall mindset they owned going to Seattle last year, and hang on to it despite a 9-1 record.