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What To Watch In The Seahawks' Week 9 Game at Arizona

Players, matchups and storylines to watch in the Seahawks’ Week 9 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

what to watch week 9 final

The Seahawks head to the desert this weekend to face the Cardinals for the second time in less than a month, and will be looking to extend a winning streak that began with a 19-9 win over the Cardinals to four games.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are looking to right the ship after losing three of their last four to fall to 3-5. Here are five things to watch in Sunday's NFC West showdown:

1. Can Tariq Woolen & the rest of Seattle's secondary slow down Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins?

It's been a fantastic debut season so far for Tariq Woolen, who on Thursday was named the NFL Defensive rookie of the Month for October. Woolen's standout month included three of his four interceptions, including a pick off Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray that helped cap a win in which the Seahawks defense did not allow a touchdown.

Woolen and the rest of the Seahawks secondary will be facing a stiffer test this time around however, thanks to the return of three-time first-team All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who missed the previous meeting while serving a six-game suspension.

Since returning to action, Hopkins has 22 catches for 262 yards and a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab in two games, and has helped the entire offense improve, with Arizona scoring 68 points in the last two games after being held to a single field goal in Seattle.

"It's a world of difference, you're talking about one of the premier receivers in the National Football League," defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said of Hopkins' impact on Arizona's offense. "He is definitely a threat, I believe he has (27) targets in his first two games, so they are going to make it a point to get him the football. You have to definitely give him the attention that he deserves and requires."

Woolen won't be the only cornerback covering Hopkins, but when those two face off, it will be a must-watch matchup.

2. Can Geno Smith and the offense be better in the red zone?

There's a lot to love about the way Geno Smith, who was just named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month, and the entire Seahawks offense has played in the first eight games of the season, but if there is one clear area of improvement Smith and company are looking to make, it is in their red-zone efficiency.

Smith, who is one touchdown pass away from a career-high, would love to find the end zone a few more times this weekend, because it would mean the Seahawks are doing better in the red zone, where they currently rank 31st in the NFL, scoring touchdowns on 40 percent of their trips inside the 20. That stat is a little misleading seeing as the Seahawks have scored 11 offensive touchdowns from outside of the red zone this season, but as the last meeting between these teams illustrated, there is still plenty of room to grow. In last month's win, the Seahawks settled for short field goals on each of their first four trips to the red zone before Kenneth Walker III scored on their fifth red-zone possession.

Arizona's defense hasn't been particularly stingy in the red zone this season, allowing touchdowns on 63.6 percent of opponents' trips into he red zone, but they were tough against the Seahawks in that area.

"Thinking about that game, they presented us with a bunch of different fronts and situational challenges," Smith said. "I can remember being down in the red zone and it was right before the half, so they were backed up, pretty much playing goal line. We didn't do great in the red zone that game, so that's something that we have to improve on. Really, throughout the entire season, we haven't been great in the red zone, so we have to just keep getting better in the red zone and really finish drives. We have to finish drives with touchdowns, not settling for field goals, and also doing really well on third down."

3. Which team can force and capitalize on turnovers?

When these teams met last month, the Seahawks felt like they were in control of the game despite their red zone struggles, because their defense was doing such a good job shutting the Cardinals down after a field goal on their opening drive.

The Cardinals got right back in the game, however, when a special teams turnover in the end zone resulted in an Arizona touchdown. And it's hardly a coincidence that the Cardinals made things happen thanks to a turnover; their 45 points scored off turnovers are the third most in the NFL.

And while the Cardinals have 10 takeaways, which ranks 11th in the NFL, the Seahawks have been even better creating turnovers with 14, tied for fourth most, including 15 forced fumbles that have turned into nine turnovers, tied for the most in the league.

For all the Seahawks have done well on offense, they're yet to play a turnover-free game—something they did nine times a year ago—while the Cardinals have been turnover free three times this year, while committing multiple turnovers only twice. Those two games did come, however, in the past three weeks, with Arizona turning it over twice against Seattle and three times in last week's loss to the Vikings.

Whichever team can not only force turnovers but turn those takeaways in to points will have a great shot at coming away victorious on Sunday.

4. Can Seattle's resurgent pass rush keep it up?

Five games into the season, Seattle's defense was struggling in multiple phases of the game, one of which was its pass rush, which produced only eight sacks during that 2-3 start to the season. In recent weeks, however, Seattle's defense has made a dramatic turnaround, one that includes a resurgent pass rush. Starting with the Week 6 win in which the defense sacked Kyler Murray six times, the Seahawks have recorded 14 sacks over a three-game stretch.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, will be trying to hold off that improved Seattle pass rush with an offensive line that is missing starting center Rodney Hudson and that has starting left tackle D.J. Humphries listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

5. Will the Seahawks continue their winning ways in the desert?

A quirky trend in this particular NFC West rivalry is that the road team has had a lot more success in recent years. The Seahawks were able to buck that trend last month, beating the Cardinals at home for just the fourth time in the past 10 meetings. What they don't want to change, however, is their string of success playing at State Farm Stadium. The Seahawks have been a good road team in general in recent years, going 18-11 away from home since 2019 and a 46-30-1 record going back to 2013, but they've been especially good in Arizona, posting a 7-1-1 record dating back to 2013, a total that doesn't include a win in that building over the 49ers, who were displaced by local COVID restrictions, late in the 2020 season.

Take a look back at some of the best photos from the first half of the Seahawks' 2022 season. Through eight games, the team is 5-3 and sits in first place in the NFC West. Top Shots are presented by CarMax.

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