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Seahawks vs Cardinals Preview: Highlighting 4 key matchups

The Seahawks are coming off of a difficult 39-32 loss at the hands of the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. It was a relatively back and forth game with both teams having chances to take over the game, but neither was able to run away with it. Seattle was a considerable underdog heading into last week’s matchup and should be given credit for sticking around with the Saints in New Orleans. For the fifth time this season the Seahawks are entering a game as the underdog as they host the Arizona Cardinals who are 2.5-point favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Arizona has a top-heavy roster as they feature some true game deciding stars on their roster although they are very weak in other areas. The Cardinals areas of strength rather than weakness will be the deciding matchups in this week’s game.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown vs Seahawks secondary

Hollywood Brown is largely viewed as a pure deep threat receiver who makes his money 20+ yards down the field. However, that’s not the case with the former Baltimore Raven. The first clip shows how elusive and dangerous he is with the ball in his hands no matter where he made the reception. Seattle has struggled with missed tackles this year, so Brown is going to be a major test for them to see if they have improved at all in that area.

The second play encapsulates how corners have to play him and how it allows him to create separation from 15 and in. Off the snap Darius Slay is protecting for a go route, which we can see from him opening up his hips at the top of the route. Brown does a great job of selling it by breaking it down quickly to sell the hitch, then accelerating out of it and then getting low and flipping his hips to receive the ball.

The third clip shows just how good Brown’s body control is. The former first round pick is running what looks like a slot fade. He tracks it perfectly, high points the ball and then somehow manages to get both feet in bounds. Brown can routinely make this style of catch so preventing back shoulder grabs is going to be key for this Seahawks secondary.

The edge- Hollywood Brown - This was the toughest one to call for me in this article. On one hand, the Seahawks secondary has been better than most saw coming this season, which is largely due to Tariq Woolen’s strong start to his rookie season. Additionally, Hollywood Brown is also one of the fastest players in the league, however Woolen is able to combat that with his blazing speed. On the flip side Saints rookie Chris Olave was trending for a big game against other Seahawks secondary players prior to suffering a concussion in the third quarter. I do not expect Hollywood to dominate this game or anything close to that, but I think he will finish with 70-80 yards on 6 catches which gives him the slight edge.

Kyler Murray vs The Seahawks’ Front 7

Kyler is one of the best escape artists that the league has. We have seen it time and time again over the course of his career. No matter how many rushers a team sends at him he has an innate ability to run around behind the line of scrimmage and wait for one of his receivers to get open. Murray is not the designed run threat that quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields are, although he can still hurt you running the ball as he has 28 carries for 133 yards thus far this season. It will be very interesting to see how the Seahawks decide to defend the former Oklahoma Sooner, whether it be by using a consistent spy, blitzing five rushers to try and account for every potential escape lane or playing a bit more zone coverage so they have more eyes on Murray.

Arizona has smaller and quicker receivers across the board who can punish a team if the play gets extended and it turns into a backyard football style play, so it is going to be imperative for Seattle to keep Murray in the pocket this Sunday.

The edge - Kyler Murray - This is not an indictment on the Seahawks front 7, it is more so a compliment to how good Kyler Murray is at extending the play. Seattle certainly has the athletes needed to keep Murray contained, but I believe that Murray will be able to extend a few big plays including third downs which gives him the edge.

J.J. Watt vs Seahawks offensive line

Despite not posting the numbers he once did, J.J. Watt is still an impact player. As shown in the first clip he can line up anywhere across the defensive line which helps open up mismatches elsewhere, including for himself. The second clip shows off one of Watt’s moves in his still advanced pass rushing tool kit: he gets the offensive lineman to go too far outside by starting his pass rush up field. He then pulls inside which gives him an easy lane at Davis Mills.

When Watt lines up inside, unless Arizona is blitzing five or more defenders, I expect Seattle to shade the center to Watt’s side to help the guard inside. The third clip shows what Watt has mastered throughout his entire career with the swat. Over the course of his 139-game career the 3-time defensive player of the year has registered 66 passes defensed including 3 already this season. When Seattle is trying to execute quick passing plays, the offensive line is going to need to stay tight to Watt in order to try and prevent him from getting his hands up in the passing lane.

The edge - The offensive line - Watt is still a very good player who carries the ability to impact any game. Although, he is not the player he once was. He is playing in the lowest percentage of defensive snaps since 2017 as the former Houston Texan played in 70% in both seasons. Additionally, since the start of the 2019 season, in 35 games Watt only has 12.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. As a result, I think the Seahawks offensive line is going to do just enough to keep the veteran in check on Sunday.

Budda Baker vs Geno Smith and the running game

Budda Baker is one of, if not the best, all-around safeties in the league, as he can make a true three-level impact. He has no true weaknesses as a player and is the type of defender that an offense has to account for and locate pre-snap every play. On the first play Baker immediately recognizes the slant by going into a squat then coming up to make the interception. The former Washington Husky is then able to pop up and gain an additional 50 or so yards on the return.

Baker does a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and being where the ball is going to be delivered more often than not so Geno Smith is going to have to manipulate his eyes if he wants to pick up easy completions on Sunday. The second play shows the impact Baker can make in the running game. He comes down perfectly from the deep middle safety spot flowing with the running back and reading the hole he was going to hit. The two time All-Pro then delivers a perfect hit on the back to prevent any yards after contact.

The edge - Budda Baker - As discussed above, Baker can do everything required from a safety. Personally, I believe he will be the most impactful player in this game. I expect him to come away with a few big tackles at or near the line of scrimmage. Additionally, with how much Seattle has been airing it out this season I am going to predict that he is going to come away with an interception.

Week 5 recap

Cam Jordan vs the offensive line

Predicted edge - Jordan - Actual edge - Jordan

Jordan was impactful in this one. He registered 2 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss and 2 QB hits. Players of Jordan’s caliber are going to impact games like this on a regular basis and no matter how much attention an offense shows to them they are still going to win plenty of plays. Importantly though, Seattle did not let Jordan take the game over which he is more than capable of doing.

Chris Olave vs the secondary

Left unfortunately with a concussion in the third quarter after catching a touchdown pass.

Alvin Kamara vs the front 7

Predicted edge - Kamara - Actual edge - Kamara

Kamara had himself a day on Sunday. The former Tennessee Volunteer rushed for 103 yards on 23 carries in addition to picking up an additional 91 receiving yards on 6 grabs. I was unsure how much of an impact Kamara was going to make coming off of a rib injury, but he showed he was at or as close as possible to being 100% in this one. Struggling against the run is becoming a weekly theme for this Seahawks front 7 and is something that is going to have to be fixed.

Marshon Lattimore vs D.K. Metcalf

Predicted edge - Metcalf - Actual edge - Lattimore

This is another tough call for me. Metcalf did go for 88 yards on 5 catches but 50 of those yards came on a scramble drill where Lattimore was not covering him. Metcalf did beat Lattimore on a different play for a would-be 32-yard touchdown had it not been called back for a holding call on Charles Cross. But since the play did not count Metcalf only had 4 catches for 38 yards if you remove the long ball where he was covered by Paulson Adebo giving the edge to Lattimore. Even the touchdown that Metcalf dropped was when Bradley Roby was in coverage and not Lattimore.

Score prediction - Seahawks 30 Cardinals 27

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)