Up next: Arizona Cardinals

Posted Oct 15, 2013

After a four-game swing through the AFC South, the Seahawks return to the NFC West for their next two games – starting with Thursday night’s nationally televised matchup with the Cardinals in Arizona.

A look at the 3-3 Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks’ Week 7 opponent:

When: Thursday, 5:25 p.m. PT, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Record: 3-3 after Sunday’s 32-20 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco

Where they rank: No. 26 on offense (24th rushing, 18th passing); No. 15 on defense (5th rushing, 19th passing)

TV: NFL Network and Joe TV (KZJO), with Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock and Alex Flanagan

Series: Cardinals lead 15-13, including an 8-4 edge in Arizona. But the Seahawks won the last meeting, 58-0 in Week 14 at CenturyLink Field last season 

Star power: Larry Fitzgerald. No need for introductions here. In 18 games against the Seahawks, since entering the NFL as the third pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Fitzgerald has 107 receptions for 1,436 yards and 10 touchdowns against the Seahawks. That yardage total is his most against any team in the league. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection has caught passes in traffic. He has caught passes while wide open. He has caught passes with the game on the line. He has caught passes in blowouts. He has caught passes in the end zone. He has caught passes and run into the end zone. Heck, on a play in Seattle, Fitzgerald reached up to make a catch while on the ground with a Seahawks defensive back sitting on top of him. Yes, he’s that good, even though he’s playing with a pair of sore hamstrings. “I don’t think that there’s a player at his position that’s better than Larry,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I think he’s as good as you can get. He’s proven that. Guys can have years and have a couple runs at it, but he’s done it for a long time with his competitiveness; his amazing skill; great body (6-3, 218); terrific speed; route running; and just the come-through way that he has about him. He’s as good as you get.” And Fitzgerald has put up the numbers to deserve Carroll’s praise. With 30 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns this season, Fitzgerald has 794 receptions for 10,818 yards and 81 TD catches in his career, as well as 35 games with at least 100 receiving yards.

Unsung hero: Andre Ellington. The rookie running back, and a sixth-round draft choice no less, doesn’t get a lot of touches. But he definitely makes the most of his opportunities. The 5-foot-9, 199-pound Ellington is averaging 7.0 yards on 25 carries and also has 18 receptions. And he has scored two touchdowns, second on the team only to Fitzgerald. In an offense that features Fitzgerald, and QB Carson Palmer, and running back Rashard Mendenhall, and wide receiver Michael Floyd, the Seahawks can’t forget about Ellington.

On the spot: Palmer. Say what? This is the quarterback the Cardinals have been looking for – longing for – since Kurt Warner retired following the 2009 season. The quarterback who was going to make everyone forget Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley, who took snaps as the Cardinals have gone 5-11, 8-8 and 5-11 the past three seasons. But Palmer has been guilty of something these other passers did far too often: Throwing interceptions. He has 11 in six games, nine in the past four games, and now goes up against a Seahawks’ defense that has nine to tie for the second-highest total in the league, including three picks each by the All-Pro duo of cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas.    

Burning question: Will turnovers tell the tale of this Thursday nighter? The Seahawks have forced 17, one behind the league-leading Kansas City Chiefs. The Cardinals have turned it over 15 times, including four in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers. But the Seahawks also have lost six fumbles, with only the unbeaten Denver Broncos (eight) and winless New York Giants (seven) having more.

Numbers to know: 7, times the Cardinals have beaten the Seahawks in their last nine games in the desert. … 1, kicks missed by Jay Feely, who is nine of 10 on field goals and 10 of 10 on PATs. … 3, interceptions by cornerback Patrick Peterson, tying him with Thomas and Sherman among others for second-most in the league. … 69.3, Palmer’s passer rating, which is 31st in the league. … 9, receptions on third downs for Ellington.

Familiar faces: Starting right guard Paul Fanaika (2010-11) and backup center Mike Gibson (2009-11) also played for the Seahawks. Backup nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu played at the University of Washington. Running backs coach Stump Mitchell held the same position with the Seahawks (1999-2007). Scouting assistant Josh Scobey played for the Seahawks (2005-06). Area scout Chris Culmer also worked in the scouting department for the Seahawks.

The last word: “Luckily, we’re the home team. That’s a big difference.” – Cardinals coach Bruce Arians on the Sunday-Thursday turnaround for this game