Arizona Cardinals Flight Plan Against the Seattle Seahawks


We are inching ever so closer to the battle between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

It goes without saying how big this game is for both teams. If the Cardinals find a way to win, they win the NFC West and grab home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the road team wins, the Seahawks are in the drivers seat not only for the division title, but for best record in the NFC as well.

Here’s what to watch for come Sunday.


Now that the Arizona Cardinals suffered another quarterback injury to Drew Stanton (not season-ending), the Cardinals will turn to Ryan Lindley at quarterback. Lindley was released by the Cardinals, served a stint on the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad, was out of work and was signed right after starting quarterback Carson Palmer suffered a season-ending ACL injury.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians never loses confidence in his quarterbacks. Facing a 3rd & 4 on the Rams’ 39-yard line, I was thinking Arians would call a short pass to go for the first down. Instead, Arians gave Lindley, with no reps entering the game, the green-light to throw a deep ball to rookie wide receiver John Brown. It was a heck of a throw, but the defender made a great play in the last second.

If you’re Arizona, you want to continue to run the ball well against this feisty Seahawks defense, which is second in the league in points allowed. Known for the Seahawks Cover 3 and its dominant secondary, the Legion of Boom, Seattle still is fifth in rush defense. If the Seahawks stop the run early on, Arizona must not abandon the run too early.

In its own territory, Arizona must run the ball and complete short passes to put itself in great field position. Running back Kerwynn Williams looks to continue to lead the way, after rushing for 100 and 75 yards in his first two games as a Cardinal. Expect to see Williams and Stepfan Taylor split the carries again.

Once the Cardinals offense is at midfield, Arians, knowing he has the advantage field position-wise, can now get more aggressive and call more shots down field. It helps that Larry Fitzgerald will be playing against the Seahawks this time, and Michael Floyd and Brown are certainly capable of making big plays down field. The main idea is to put the Cardinals’ defense in a great position to allow as little points as possible with Lindley getting the start at quarterback.

Arians went with Lindley as his starter, but that doesn’t mean rookie quarterback Logan Thomas can’t see some action. Thomas, who is 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, could be used in various ways. He could take a direct snap and rush for a first down on 3rd & short. He could be used as a tight end in a goal line package too.

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Thomas could be used on a trick play, where he could be lined up at receiver or tight end. A running back could be running a toss play to the other side, but Thomas, lined up as a tight end on the opposite end of the play, could receive a throw from the running back on the fake toss, and could throw deep for a touchdown.

It will be interesting to see how Arians uses Thomas come Sunday.

If you’re the Cardinals, you must keep the offense on the field so the defense doesn’t get tired. Seattle dominated the time of possession during the first meeting, when it had 35:37 minutes of possession, compared to only 24:33 minutes of possession for Arizona.


The Cardinals defense played very well the last time it faced the Seahawks. Arizona’s defense sacked quarterback Russell Wilson seven times and held running back Marshawn Lynch to 39 yards on 15 carries. Expect Arizona to continue to confuse the mobile Wilson with various blitz packages, but most of all they must have every one of their blitzers stay within their own gaps. If the offense can stay on the field more than it did during the first meeting, big plays won’t be allowed if the defense isn’t worn out too quick.

Arizona must watch out for the read option at times. If Seattle starts running the ball with Lynch early on, which happens a lot of times from shotgun, it might try to fool Arizona with a read option play in the second half. Arizona’s outside linebackers must not commit too far inside, which Wilson will keep it to himself if defenses do so. That will be a big task for outside linebackers Sam Acho, Matt Shaughnessy and Alex Okafor (7 sacks).

Special Teams:

Field position, field position, field position! The offense will try to do its part by moving the ball, but punter Drew Butler may be the most important player on Sunday for the Cardinals. He can make things much easier on the offense and defense if he can pin a couple punts inside the Seahawks’ 10-yard line. If he can, the defense could have an opportunity to get a quick stop and set the Cardinals offense at midfield. Also, a lot of turnovers happen when opponents are pined at their own territory, so that is a possibility.

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  • If Butler is settling for touchbacks, that would mean that Seattle is more likely to pin the Cardinals deep in their own territory. With two defenses in the top three in points allowed, the game will most likely come to who has the field position advantage.

    Seattle won the field position battle at home during the first meeting, when its first half drives started at the Arizona 49-yard line, the Seahawks 39-yard line, the Seahawks 44-yard line, the Cardinals 48-yard line and the Cardinals 48-yard line again. Seattle also has a very good kicker in Steven Hauschka, who has made 29 field goals on 32 attempts this season.

    My Take:

    The Cardinals are currently eight-point underdogs, but don’t let that fool you. The first meeting came down to field position, and expect the Cardinals to come up with a game plan that will emphasize getting good field position and limiting risky plays at their own territory. Arians has always been aggressive, sothat won’t change. He’ll get aggressive with play-calling when he knows the Cardinals are at midfield.

    I think now that the Cardinals are running the ball well ever since guard Jonathan Cooper entered the starting lineup. Arizona will keep the ball out of Seattle’s hands, and as a result, Arizona’s defense won’t get worn out too early.

    Arizona’s defense should be able to stop Lynch and Wilson, like it did during the first meeting. Arizona will have a chance to prove doubters wrong again, and I think it will win by two possessions with the help of a big special teams play. Arizona’s home field will be rocking on national television.

    Cardinals 20 Seahawks 10