Running back Rashard Mendenhall #28 of the Arizona Cardinals is tackled for a loss by outside linebacker Bruce Irvin #51 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter during a game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2013.
Photographer: Getty Images
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Right now, the Cardinals are facing two opponents not listed on the NFL schedule.
First, the schedule itself. Within a span of four days, the Cards will play arguably the two toughest teams they’ll face all season in the 49ers and the Seahawks.
Second, in the Cardinals (3-3) three losses, they keep proving to be their own worst enemy. On Sunday during a 32-20 loss at San Francisco, the Cards committed four turnovers (2 interceptions and two lost fumbles). Head Coach Bruce Arians summed up the loss with two words – “self-inflicted."
Like the 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks (5-1) feature a run-first mentality on offense. In fact, with physical running back Marshawn Lynch (3rd ranked NFL rusher with 487 yards) leading the way, the NFC West leaders rely on the No. 2 rushing attack in the NFL (averaging 157.7 yards rushing per game).
The good news is that the Cards counter with a 5th ranked rush defense that’s much improved over a year ago. Also, the Cardinals defensive line has excelled in the past against a Seattle offensive line that is currently plagued by injuries.
Perhaps the other bit of good news revolves around the fact that the Seahawks offense does not include a high-flying pass-catching tight end. At least, not to the tune of the trio of tight ends that has combined to torture the Cards defense in their three losses with a combined 24 catches, 455 yards, and 6 TD’s.
As for the Cards offensive production, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to involve tight end Rob Housler, who’s still looking for his first NFL touchdown reception. According to Arians, this also ties into Carson Palmer’s 11 picks through six games.
When Arians was asked how Palmer can remedy throwing interceptions, especially early in games?
“Have the guys around him play better,” Arians answered.
Finally, back to the current schedule, the Cardinals are hosting their first Thursday night game since 1995. And that comes with at least one benefit.
“(Seattle) actually has to travel down here. They have a 3-hour flight,” Larry Fitzgerald explained. “I say we definitely have an advantage. We don’t have to get on a plane and go anywhere. We get to play in front of our home crowd. This is a big game.”
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