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Pasch Factor: Rivalry Revisited

Thursday game against Seahawks means so much


Over the last four seasons, other than the Arizona Cardinals, no team has played better at University of Phoenix Stadium than the Seattle Seahawks.

The Cardinals haven't won a home game against the Seahawks since 2012, which was Russell Wilson's first start at quarterback. Since that game, Wilson has thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in Glendale against the Cardinals, and the Seahawks are 3-0-1 in Arizona during that span. Last year's meeting was a debacle, as the Cardinals had plenty of opportunities to win, yet had to settle for a 6-6 tie.

If ever there was a night to end the non-winning streak, the time is now.

The Cardinals, despite injuries to two of their best offensive players (Carson Palmer and David

Johnson), and one of their best defensive players (Markus Golden), somehow find themselves at 4-4 at the halfway point of the regular season, with five of their remaining eight games at home.

Arizona has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL, in a year where the entire league is inconsistent. Backup quarterback Drew Stanton is now on center stage, and did everything the coaches asked of him Sunday in San Francisco. The coaches and players believe Stanton can win important games, and Thursday's game against Seattle is the biggest contest of the season to date.

The defense also played arguably its best game of the year against the 49ers. Yet, with San Francisco's offensive woes and winless record, it's hard to buy in just yet to the Cardinals defense. They need to prove their worth Thursday against the Seahawks.

Meanwhile, Seattle is probably at its most vulnerable since it last lost at University of Phoenix Stadium five years ago. The Seahawks are coming off a 17-14 home loss to Washington, the

first defeat for Seattle since week three. They've added pieces via trade on both sides of the ball, and they still have big names on defense, yet something doesn't just seem right about the defending NFC West champs.

The "Legion of Boom' is getting longer in the tooth, and Earl Thomas, the heart and soul of their defense, isn't healthy. They still have dangerous pass rushers like Michael Bennett and Frank Clark, and Bobby Wagner is one of the best in the NFL at his position. Their biggest issues are on offense, mainly in the run game. Quarterback Russell Wilson is their leading rusher with 271 yards. He has, at times, single-handedly kept Seattle in games.

Wilson is no doubt a great player, but Seattle has always been at its best when it has a strong running game. Wilson thrives in a three-dimensional offense, where the run-pass-play action options all exist. With problems on the offensive line, the Seahawks are often off schedule, and Wilson has to improvise. He has done that marvelously, throwing for more than 2,300 yards, good for third in the NFL. His 17 touchdown passes are fourth- best in the league, and he has only thrown six interceptions. However, outside of Wilson's rushing yards, the Seattle tailbacks haven't produced. In fact, J.D. McKissic is the only Seahawk other than Wilson to score a rushing touchdown this season. 

The Cardinals now know their identity. Run Adrian Peterson, play good defense, and hopefully good special teams. That makes Seattle a favorable matchup for Arizona. If the Cardinals can pull this off, they'll be right back in the thick of the NFC West race.

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