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Keys to a Cardinals victory over the Seahawks on Thursday night 

The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks face each other again in what should be another fantastic NFC West rivalry game. The last time these two teams met, they combined for 1,091 yards and 71 points. That game, however, was in the friendly confines of State Farm Stadium in sunny Arizona. Tonight’s contest will be at the newly named Lumen Field in Seattle where weather may be a factor.

The venue is not the only thing to have changed. Arizona enters tonight’s game atop the NFC West. Previously unbeaten, Seattle has lost their last two games and are 1-3 over their last four. With identical 6-3 records, the winner of tonight’s game will have sole possession of the NFC West lead — at least for now.

So, what will be the keys to Arizona pulling off another prime-time victory?

Play a full 60 minutes of defense

Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals’ defense has been a tale of two halves this year. Defensively, Arizona has allowed 36 more points and 206 more yards in the first half vs. the second. This has put the Cardinals at an average deficit of 8 points at the half. Credit should go to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who has done a great job at making halftime adjustments. However, in order for Arizona to take that next step, their defense needs to start fast and put opponents down early. Seattle will enter tonight’s game a desperate team. Arizona cannot allow the Seahawks to gain any momentum in this game and risk being steamrolled.

Protect Kyler Murray

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona offensive line has done a good job in protecting Kyler Murray so far this season. They have allowed the fewest hits (9), ahestied for 5th in fewest sacks allowed (13), and are 6th best in pressure rate allowed (15.9%). In their first meeting, despite 26 blitz attempts, the Seahawks were only able to get six pressures on Murray and did not record a sack. The lack of pressure on Murray infuriated Seattle’s head coach, Pete Carroll. According to Dan Bickley of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, his sources say Pete Carrol was unhappy about his team’s lack of physicality and lack of pressure on Murray in Week 7 and it will be a point of emphasis for tonight’s game. Seattle has blitzed opponents 152 times, good for fourth most, and have recorded 30 quarterback knockdowns, eighth-most. The Seahawks like to manufacture blitz pressure by bringing either a safety Jamal Adams or linebacker Bobby Wagner. The one to watch the most for here is Adams, who since 2017, ranks first among defensive backs in blitzes (210), pressures (39), and sacks (15.5). https://twitter.com/IE_NFL/status/1329465207245168644

Disrupt Russell Wilson/Stop the run

Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

While this may seem like a two-parter, they both apply to the same person, Russell Wilson. In their last meeting, the Cardinals were able to disrupt Wilson and force him into mistakes. Against Arizona, Wilson had season highs in interceptions (3), pressures (16), hits (7), hurries (7), bad throws (9), and times blitzed (26). Over his past 4 games, Wilson has thrown seven interceptions and fumbled three times. Wilson leads the Seahawks in rushing yards (325) and yards per carry (7.2). In their first meeting, Wilson ran 6 times for 84 yards, a 14-yard average. With Chris Carson unlikely to play, and the remaining running back corp in Carlos Hyde, Deejay Dallas, and Travis Homer averaging 3.5 yards per carry, Seattle is likely to rely on Wilson’s legs for their ground game. Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Latest show:

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