Here is our weekly First Look at Seattle’s upcoming opponent:
Seahawks opponent: Arizona Cardinals.
Game time: 1:05 p.m. Pacific, CenturyLink Field.
Coach: Bruce Arians, 9-5 in first official season as head coach (served as interim coach of Colts last season for 12 games and was 9-3).
Last game: Won at Tennessee, 37-34, in overtime.
The series: Arizona leads it 15-14, but the Seahawks have won five of the last seven, including the last three games in Seattle, capped by a 58-0 win on Dec. 9, 2012.
The early line: Seahawks by 10.
Key players: Carson Palmer (above in an Associated Press photo) as been erratic at times this season, but has helped stabilize the team’s passing game, completing 64.5 percent of his attempts and throwing for 21 touchdown passes. He also has thrown 17 interceptions, but has not thrown a pick in four of the last five games as the Cardinals have won six of their last seven. Palmer suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday but did not come out of the game. Palmer’s favorite target is veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald, now 30, who leads the team with 30 receptions (he suffered a concussion Sunday but early indications are he should be able to play). Rookie Andre Ellington, a sixth-round pick out of Clemson, has revived Arizona’s running game, and has 558 yards on the season, averaging 5.9 per carry. John Abraham, a 14-year veteran who signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in July, has been a huge spark for the Arizona defense and is tied for fourth in the NFL in sacks with 11.5.
Arizona’s keys to success: When Seattle blasted the Cardinals in Glendale, 34-22, on Oct. 17, there was nothing to indicate that Arizona would morph into a legitimate playoff contender — the Cardinals fell to 3-4 with that defeat. But that’s what’s happened as Arizona has since won six of seven, thanks in part to an improving defense that has forced 28 turnovers — fourth in the NFL — and an offense that has gotten steadier play of late out of Palmer and a boost in the running game from Ellington. A 3-0 turnover differential was the difference Sunday as the Cardinals survived blowing a 17-point lead in the final six minutes of regulation to beat Tennessee 37-34 in overtime. Arizona has the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, allowing just 83.2 yards per game — since allowing 135 to the Seahawks, the Cardinals have held five seven teams since to under 100 and none to more than 105. Arizona’s only loss since the Seattle game was a 24-21 defeat at Philadelphia, and in that time beat the Falcons, Jaguars, Colts and Rams by 13 points or more.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 — Number of winning seasons for the Cardinals since moving to Arizona in 1988, including this year.
4 — Interceptions returned for touchdowns this season, tied for third in the NFL.
3.6 — Yards per rush allowed by Arizona, second in the NFL to the 3.2 of the Jets.