Game Preview: Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

The Hawks come off their bye week to face the struggling Arizona Cardinals in their final regular season meeting of the 2005 season. This meeting will also be the last time the Seahawks face the Cardinals inside Sun Devil Stadium, as the Cardinals will open their new stadium in 2006.

What: NFC West tilt
When: Sunday, November 6th, 1 p.m. (PST)
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
Weather: 83 degrees, clear skies


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Cardinals Key Players:

QB Kurt Warner: To no one's surprise, the aging veteran was named the starter by head coach Dennis Green. Warner still throws a pretty deep ball and is fearless in the face of a rush. Even though he might be fearless, the hits do get to him and he tends to make mistakes when pressured. Warner has been more accurate than backup Josh McCown, but his 63.4% completion percentage is not where it needs to be. He has no mobility and with a suspect offensive line, he could be a sitting duck for oncoming pass-rushers.

WR Anquan Boldin: Boldin has been excellent in his third season and leads the team with 616 yards on 39 receptions for three touchdowns. He's a fiery player who wears his emotions on his sleeve and he's one of the few playmakers on the offense. He has excellent hands, is exceptionally strong and has deceptive speed. He doesn't run the crispest routes, but he has improved in that area since he got into the NFL. Boldin suffered a bone-bruise on his knee against Dallas last week and he is likely out for the game against the Hawks.

WR Larry Fitzgerald: With the possibility of Boldin missing time, Fitzgerald will be the focus of the Cardinals' downfield attack. He leads the team with 44 receptions and four touchdowns. He's also right behind Boldin with 611 yards receiving. Fitzgerald has excellent body-control and hands. He is also big and he possesses sneaky speed. His route-running is suspect and he still struggles when trying to read a defense. With Boldin out Fitzgerald is the only playmaker for the Cardinals on offense and he will be a focal-point of the downfield attack.

DE Bertrand Berry: One the best free agent signings in recent memory, Berry hasn't had the same impact for the Cardinals defense that he did in 2004. Berry still has seven sacks, on pace for another double-digit sack season, but teams are focusing their pass-protections to his side and he's had trouble with the double teams and "chips" from backs and tight ends. Berry is a team leader, organizing a player's only meeting along with a few other veterans to get the team to focus on the task at hand.

SS Adrian Wilson: Wilson is one of the most underrated players in the league and he leads the Cardinals again in tackles with 48. Wilson is a poor-man's Roy Williams. He supports the run well, coming up hard and laying the wood when he gets there. His problems remain in coverage where he's only adequate because he's stiff and doesn't run well with wideouts. He is one of the emotional leaders of the Cardinals' defense and the younger players on the squad look to him when a big play needs to be made.

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Key Matchups:

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. Cardinals FS Robert Griffith: Griffith still has some life left in his 34-year old body. He is smart and knows how to "deek" a quarterback. He's also a ball-hawk even though he doesn't have any interceptions this season. Hasselbeck struggled two weeks ago, throwing two interceptions in a rain-soaked game, but he made plays when he needed to, leading the Hawks to a come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys. Hasselbeck also has benefited from his wideouts hanging on to the ball and seems to have a real feel for the passing game right now.

Seahawks LT Walter Jones vs. Berry: This is one of the better offensive tackle/defensive end matchups you will find in the NFL. Berry led the entire league in sacks last season, but was stifled by Jones in the teams' first meeting this season. Berry rarely made it within 15 feet of Hasselbeck and was manhandled in the run as well. Jones has been on top of his game this season and is the best left tackle in the league. Berry has a plethora of moves and he should be extra-motivated after his previous showing against Jones. This one should be fun to watch.

Seahawks DEs Grant Wistrom vs. Cardinals LT Leonard Davis: Wistrom has picked up his game the past two weeks, getting two sacks versus the Cowboys two weeks ago and generating a little more pressure off the right side of the defensive line. Reviews of Davis' move to the outside have been mixed. He is huge and very athletic, but he lacks the concentration needed to be the dominant force that his physical attributes would lead one to believe he could be. Wistrom may be stifled by the big man from the desert, but if he can hold strong against the run and force plays inside he will be doing his job. Another battle to keep an eye on is DE Bryce Fisher versus Fred Wakefield, a converted defensive tackle. Fisher could have a field day with an immobile Warner under center.

Fitzgerald vs. Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant: Trufant has been solid this season, but he still struggles with the ball in the air. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is excellent when the ball is up for grabs and makes great adjustments on the ball. Trufant matched up against Boldin last season and shut him down while Fitzgerald, in his rookie season, faced off against former Seahawks CB Ken Lucas. Because Fitzgerald doesn't run precise routes, Trufant can play off his man a little hoping to break on the ball and make a play. Fitzgerald doesn't have exceptional speed, but he has enough to get deep on a regular basis and Trufant must guard against the deep ball more than anything.

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News and Notes: RB Shaun Alexander ranks third in the NFL with 776 yards rushing and is first with 12 touchdowns; Alexander needs three touchdowns to be the first player ever in the NFL to rush for 15 TD's in five-straight seasons; Seattle's offense ranks first in the NFL at 390.3 yards per game; Since becoming a starter in 2001, Hasselbeck has 52 touchdown passes vs. two interceptions in the red zone; Both teams sport -3 turnover ratio margins; Berry is tied with Indianapolis Colts DE Dwight Freeney for most sacks since 2003 with 33; Cardinals K Neil Rackers has hit a franchise-best 22 consecutive field goals; Arizona leads series 7-6, but Seattle has won the last two.

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Injuries:

Seattle:
OUT: WR Darrell Jackson (knee)
DOUBTFUL: T Wayne Hunter (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: LB D. D. Lewis (knee)
PROBABLE: WR Bobby Engram (ribs)


Arizona: OUT: WR Anquan Boldin (knee); CB Antrel Rolle (knee)
DOUBTFUL: G Elton Brown (knee); WR Reginald Swinton (toe)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Teyo Johnson (shin); LB Lance Mitchell (knee)
PROBABLE: LB Karlos Dansby (knee); CB Eric Green (shoulder); QB Josh McCown (ribs); RB Harold Morrow (ankle); DE Chike Okeafor (wrist); T Oliver Ross (hand)


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Prediction: Seattle 30 – Arizona 17

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