The Seahawks close out the regular season by hosting the Arizona Cardinals, a team that has been a tough opponent, particularly in Seattle in recent years. To learn more about Seattle's Week 17 opponent, we reached out to AZCardinals.com writer Kyle Odegard with five questions about the Cardinals.
Q: This series has been weird of late in terms of both teams winning more on the road than at home. Is there anything you can put your finger on as to why the Cardinals have done well at CenturyLink Field when most teams have struggled here?
Odegard: First and foremost, I think the Cardinals have gone up there with talented teams. That's always going to be the most important thing. It also helps to have a coach with the temperament of Bruce Arians. He is a confident guy who doesn't get intimidated, and that likely rubbed off on his players, especially in 2013 when the team was a big underdog and pulled out the win. The road success/home failures on each side is probably more of a statistical quirk than anything, though.
Q: Is the team embracing the role of spoiler this week?
Odegard: To an extent. Quarterback Drew Stanton said it would be icing on the cake, but there is enough of a rivalry that the Cardinals would have wanted to win even if Seattle was eliminated from contention last week. It's a small carrot to them but not really a rallying cry.
Q: How Larry Fitzgerald remain so productive 14 years into his career?
Odegard: It has been truly impressive. He continues to work on his craft and has great dedication. The Cardinals have been hit hard by injuries on offense this season, but Fitzgerald continues to perform week in and week out. It seems like he is reaching a new milestone every game. He is going to contemplate retirement again this offseason, but if he does hang them up, it's clear he will do so while still at the top of his game.
Q: What went into the decision of going back to Drew Stanton, and what does he bring to the offense that maybe wasn't there while he was out?
Odegard: Blaine Gabbert showed flashes of promise, but he was inconsistent. Stanton has a much better grasp of the offense because he has been in the system for several years, and Arians thought he would give the team a better chance to win. It was somewhat surprising because Gabbert is younger, but Arians was clear that he is focused on winning games to wrap up 2017 instead of worrying about draft order.
Q: The defense is putting up impressive numbers of late, what has improved for that unit over the past few games?
Odegard: The addition of veteran cornerback Tramon Williams into the starting lineup has been a big help. He has solidified the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson and made it tough to throw on the Cardinals. Chandler Jones has been fantastic getting after the quarterback all season, but it seems like the defensive line has become more productive as the year has gone on. Young defensive lineman Olsen Pierre has 4.5 sacks, while the run defense has been stout for several weeks. The defense struggled early on, but this is the production most expected in 2017, even with the departure of five starters in free agency.