Game Overview ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- After a promising start to the 2023 season, Arizona has had a rough three game stretch where they have lost their last three games by an average of nearly 17 points.
- Seattle lost a close one in Cincinnati last week following their Week 5 bye and now sit at 3-2 as they play their first home game in nearly a month.
- Seattle’s offensive line is getting healthier and they appear to be moving towards a three wide receiver base set, with Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s role growing coming out of their Week 5 bye.
- Both teams rank top 10 in the league in “seconds per snap,” indicating potentially increased tempo for the game environment.
- Arizona’s backfield is currently a mess with three players involved.
How Arizona Will Try To Win ::
Arizona came blazing out of the gates, surprising the naysayers with competitive one-score losses the first two weeks of the season to the Commanders and Giants, and then following that up with an emphatic home win over the previously rolling Cowboys. Since then, however, they have hit more of a wall than a speed bump as they have lost their last three games by 19, 14, and 17 points to the 49ers, Bengals, and Rams respectively. Looking back at those first three weeks now, we can see how the Commanders and Giants have struggled this whole season and how inconsistent the Cowboys can be. With that in mind, the “Jekyll and Hyde” that we have seen from this Cardinals team appears to likely have as much (or more) to do with their opponents than their own level of play. Said another way, they are closer to the bottom-tier team we expected coming into the season than the “surprisingly competitive” team that they had spun the narrative into to start the year.
The Cardinals had Kyler Murray return to practice this week, but Josh Dobbs will still start at quarterback for at least another week or two. Dobbs, like Murray, presents a running threat that defenses must account for from the quarterback position and adds an extra dimension to the offense. He has at least 40 rushing yards in four of six games so far this season. At running back, the Cardinals played their first game without James Conner in Week 6 and had a three-headed committee featuring Keaontay Ingram, Emari Demarcado, and newly-signed Damien Williams. All of them averaged at least four yards per carry, but none stood out. The snap counts were: Demercado 33, Ingram 28, Williams 13. The opportunity (carries plus targets) counts were: Ingram 12, Williams 9, Demercado 3. The Cardinals do have the league’s eighth-ranked DVOA rushing offense but a lot of that has to do with the contributions from Dobbs. This week they face a Seattle run defense ranked first in the NFL in DVOA and yards per carry allowed, while ranking third in PFF run defense grade.
Looking at those statistics for the Seahawks defense along with the uncertainty in the Cardinals backfield, it is hard to expect much offensive success on the ground for Arizona. That could be a problem for the Cardinals as they rank 31st in the NFL in Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE). The Cardinals have been conservative all year, and they will almost certainly approach this game that way to start, but the loss of Conner along with an imposing run defense does not bode well for early offensive success in this game. Be that as it may, Arizona’s personnel doesn’t really give it the luxury of trying to open things up against a struggling Seattle pass defense, at least not until they are forced to.