The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Seahawks at State Farm Stadium:
Kyler On Target, Drake On His Game
The Seahawks have yet to see the Cardinals' offense as it should be. In the first 2019 meeting, Kyler Murray was still trying to figure out how to operate in the NFL, and Kenyan Drake wasn't with the team. The second meeting, Drake was at his best, but Murray missed half the game with a hamstring injury. Murray is in a much better place now, healthy and knowledgeable, although he is still trying to find week-to-week consistency in the passing game. Drake is coming off his best game. The Seahawks defense, while they might get star safety Jamal Adams back, hasn't been great. The Cardinals will go as far as their offense takes them. That starts with Murray. Drake may not be too far behind.
Make It Tough For Russ In The Kitchen
The phrase popped up among analytics gurus on the internet, after countless numbers said the Seahawks were better off when Russell Wilson passed more often – "Let Russ Cook." This year, Pete Carroll finally has done that, and Wilson, future Hall of Famer that he is, hasn't disappointed. He's the presumed favorite for MVP, completing nearly 73 percent of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns with only three interceptions during a 5-0 start – the definition of cooking. When the Cards have had success against Wilson in the past, notably in Seattle, it has come because Wilson has felt the pressure. Can the Cards make that happen Sunday without Chandler Jones? They did a nice job with pressure and blitzes in Dallas, but Wilson is an elite passer who can take advantage of blitzing defenders. Wilson doesn't make a lot of mistakes, but the Cards have to press him to make some.
Playoffs Long Before The Playoffs
The Cardinals have won four of six, but this is the first big test, an undefeated team coming into their building (and a team the Cardinals haven't beaten in Arizona since 2012.) The Cardinals know what they are getting into. It'll be physical. There will be pressure put on the defense, and Patrick Peterson, the likely cover guy against DK Metcalf, will be tested. There will be fans but not a lot of them, and the energy will once again have to be self-generated (although a move to "Sunday Night Football" ratchets up the spotlight). The Cards have done a good job of that the last two weeks. The swing in this outcome is significant – a win, and the Cardinals remain in the thick of a potential division title; a loss, and they are three games back in the loss column nearly halfway through the season, and the fight will mostly be about seeking a wild card.