Sure, it’s a weekly and obvious thing to say pass protection is going to be a critical factor. But Arizona presents some specific challenges that will be vital for Seattle to handle. One is strongside linebacker Chandler Jones, who leads the NFL in sacks with 15 and will come in hoping to add a few more to secure his hold on that title to end the season. Jones lines up in lots of different spots so both of Seattle’s tackles — Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi — figure to get their shots at trying to keep him off Wilson. Another is that Arizona likes to bring pressure from a lot of different places.
Seattle has had some huge games against Arizona when it’s picked up the blitzes and other pressures and allowed Russell Wilson to find receivers in man-to-man situations — and on a few memorable occasions, basically all alone in open field.
But other times it has been a disaster — Wilson has been sacked four times or more in four of the nine games he has played against an Arians-coached Arizona team including a career-high-tying seven in Seattle in 2014 and six last season in a loss at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle’s passing game has been shockingly anemic of late — including Wilson throwing for 93 yards last Sunday at Dallas, a career low — and it’ll help if Wilson can get a few completions early to get in a good rhythm.
The defensive game plan for the Seahawks seems pretty basic in this one — contain an Arizona running attack that already appears very containable and make perennial backup quarterback Drew Stanton have to make some plays to beat them. As bad as you may think Seattle’s running game is, Arizona’s is worse, especially with David Johnson and Adrian Peterson out for the season. Arizona ranks 30th in the NFL in rushing at 84.7 yards per game and has just five rushing touchdowns, only one more than tne four for Seattle, which has gained so much attention (the Seahawks’ all-time season low for rushing touchdowns in a 16-game season is four when the team went 2-14 in 1992).
The 33-year-old Stanton has started just 16 games in his career, four this season with Arizona following Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury. Palmer was the quarterback for all three of the games Arizona has won in Seattle since 2013 while Stanton was the starter for the one loss in Seattle under Arians in 2014, a 19-3 Seahawks win.
Stanton has 23 interceptions against 19 touchdowns in his career and the Seahawks will try to make him have to throw it around some and hope that one or two passes end up heading their way, instead. And maybe the Seahawks will also try a few more of the corner blitzes that worked so well last week against Dallas and Dak Prescott.
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