Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Week 9: Hawks at Arizona

Arizona Cardinals: 2-5
2004 Home Record: 5-3
2005 Home Record: 2-2

Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (1719 yds, 9 TDs, 5 INTs) vs Kurt Warner (696 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs)
And the quarterback carousel continues for Arizona, as Kurt Warner starts again for the first time after getting knocked out in the game at Seattle. What exactly do we know about Kurt right now? He still doesn't have an offensive line. He still doesn't make great decisions. He still doesn't have good arm strength. Honestly, I don't understand why Denny Green doesn't simply stick with Josh McCown. There is a future with McCown. There is no future with Kurt. As for Matt, he has a game to put aside from his past... last year's game at Arizona. He was flat out awful against the Cardinals, easily rattled, had no touch, and essentially lost us the game. This is too important a game for this to happen again. I'm going to give Matt the benefit of the doubt here, but he needs to show up. Advantage: Seattle

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (776 yds, 12 TDs) vs Marcel Shipp (221 yds, 0 TDs)
Arizona still has no clue how to run the football at all. Their STARTING running back has 221 yards and no touchdowns. That is absurd. Shipp isn't a bad running back, in fact he had started off well in Seattle before the Cardinals abandoned the running game. Unfortunately, as we will get into below, the offensive line is so absurdly bad they can't get anything going. Shipp will have to set up if Arizona stands a chance. As for Seattle, Shaun finally had a subpar effort against Dallas. Look for him to rebound against the Cardinals. Huge Advantage: Seattle

Receivers: Seattle (238 receiving yards/game) vs Arizona (255 receiving yards/game)
Arizona's injury problems reach up and bite them again here as Anquan Boldin is out. If Boldin was in and paired with Larry Fitzgerald then Arizona has the advantage and the one main reason why they could pull off the upset. If it is only Fitzgerald then the fear simply isn't there anymore. Bryant Johnson is just not as good a receiver. While Fitzgerald will make some good plays, the lack of a running game will allow Seattle to fill up the field with zones, something they are doing a lot better these days. For the Hawks, Bobby Engram finally returns, and exactly when we need him, as Dallas had shown the league how to deal with our backups. Engram will force Arizona's defense to play more honest against the run, and Arizona lacks the secondary to press man on man the way the Cowboys could. Hasselbeck will definitely enjoy his return (as will my fantasy team). I'm going to give the Cardinals a break here, but I think we may outplay them. Advantage: Arizona

Offensive Line: Seattle (153 rushing yards/game, 14 sacks) vs Arizona (71 rushing yards/game, 22 sacks)
Do I have to explain myself before giving us an advantage? Arizona cannot rush the ball or protect the quarterback. They can do nothing well. I still cannot understand how preseason pundits couldn't see how weak this group was. Colin and I could. It's why we thought Arizona would suck... and they do. Seattle has started protecting Matt slightly better, which is nice, even against Dallas they filled the gaps pretty well. While the holes weren't quite there for Shaun last week, I look for them to rebound again. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (110 rushing yards/game, 23 sacks) vs Arizona (109 rushing yards/game, 18 sacks)
Arizona should have an advantage here, with DE Bertrand Berry being one of the better sackmeisters in the NFL. Unfortunately for Bertrand, he's going up against Walter Jones, so he gets to do jack squat all afternoon. One the other side, Chike Okeafor gets to continue to prove that he's really overrated. Does anyone remember that he used to be a Seahawk? Anyone? The inside continues to be pretty porous as well, as that rushing total indicates. For the Hawks, they did a terrible job against the run two weeks ago versus Dallas, letting Marion Barber look like the next coming of Julius Jones. I was fairly disappointed in the men in blue. However, they are putting up decent sack totals, including consistent quarterback pressure coming at opportune times. Bryce Fisher has been a significant upgrade on the aforementioned Okeafor, and Rocky Bernard is actually becoming more than a two game sack artist. Especially when going up against such a weak o-line, the advantage has to go our way. Advantage: Seattle

Linebackers: One of the best lines on our injury report is the possible loss of DD Lewis for tomorrow's game. This means that Leroy Hill could start with Tatupu and Sharper, giving us a terrific three. They as well didn't have a terrific game against Dallas, but are showing improvement in two key areas. One: they are blitzing far more effectively, not running straight into a blocker. Two: they are dropping back into coverage much better. Think about it... the short pass just isn't hurting us much this year. We'll get into this more in our midseason review, but this linebacking corps has been a significant upgrade. Arizona has a mediocre linebacking corps, and apparently they will be without Karlos Dansby for this one, which means they will be even more mediocre. Yippee. Why am I worried about this game? Advantage: Seattle

Secondary: Seattle (188 receiving yards/game, 5 INTs) vs Arizona (207 receiving yards/game, 6 INTs)
Our secondary gets a gigantic pat on the back for winning us last game. It was not just the pick by Jordan Babineaux, showing up right after I give him props in this space, it was holding down Drew Bledsoe and friends the entire game. Marquand Manuel definitely stepped up, as we hoped he would. Now we get Andre Dyson back, which puts Kelley Herndon back covering the third receiver, which is good for everyone involved. We're still not quite sure how losing Ken Hamlin is going to affect us long term, and Larry Fitzgerald will try and test us deep. Speaking of which, we have really cut down on the big passing plays this year. That sure has been nice. Antrell Rolle won't have a chance to redeem himself for getting completely used earlier in the season, as he is out, leaving in his wake a bunch of nobodies. Alright, I shouldn't say that. Adrian Wilson is excellent. I mean that the corners are nothing. Arizona sure shouldn't hope to start blitzing and stacking the line, because Bobby Engram will eat them alive. Advantage: Seattle

Special teams: Arizona has Neil Rackers, who kicked three 50+ field goals last year in their win. Josh Brown did win us the game against Dallas. Still, until Tom Rouen comes through more effectively, I can't give this one to us. Advantage: Arizona

Prediction: If we win this, we are 6-2 and in the driver's seat in the NFC West going into next week's big game against the Rams. Colin and I will be at this one, cheering our team on in the end zone. We are both a little nervous, especially after last year's debacle. Everything about this game should go our way. Everything is in our favor. Let's not mess this up. Hawks by 13.

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