That was like watching a heavily one-sided boxing match. Unfortunately, nobody could throw in the towel for the Arizona Cardinals. Seattle moves to 8-5, remains in the NFC West title race and most importantly came away unscathed. They also scored 58 points in the process. It was an early Christmas gift from a pathetic Cardinals outfit.
As great as all of that sounds, it comes with a caveat. Even during Seattle’s pretty depressing period between 2008 and 2009, they were never this bad. Arizona looked like a weak college team playing a powder-puff schedule-filler against the Alabama Crimson Tide. In fact, that’s probably being unfair to weak college outfits. The Cardinals were a shambles. Remember when they won in New England after beating the Seahawks at home? It feels like a different lifetime tonight.
Arizona’s quarterback situation is a shambles. They turned the ball over like it was fashionable. They rolled over for a tummy tickle in the first quarter and enjoyed it so much, they stayed on their backs for the rest of the game. Pathetic.
The Seahawks essentially had a scrimmage session in front of a big crowd. Yet I wonder if such a comprehensive walk-over will leave the team undercooked? If you want to be considered legitimate post-season contenders, you fly to Toronto and beat the Bills in a neutral venue. Buffalo just lost at home to an improving St. Louis and they’re 5-8. It’s Seattle’s final road game in the regular season. They just won in Chicago. This has to be targeted for a win.
So why the concern?
Well, this all sounds pretty familiar. Miami lost to the Bills prior to playing the Seahawks. Everybody expected Seattle to go to Miami and win. They were fresh after the bye. And they turned up in South Florida undercooked and lost a winnable game having led in the fourth quarter. Miami has the same 5-8 record as Buffalo. Hopefully the outcome in Toronto is slightly different because the Seahawks have to keep rolling here. There’s no reason why they can’t win out.
Finish 11-5 and there’s a fair chance it’ll equate to a home playoff game, division title and a fear factor for other teams. Nobody will want to face this Seahawks outfit at 11-5. And if they can win out, don’t rule out the possibility of earning the #2 seeding. Even if they don’t win out – Seattle’s two toughest games, it could be argued, are those two final games at home against San Francisco and St. Louis. Lose in Buffalo and you might have to win both home games to even make the post season. They can avoid that ‘must-win’ pressure by winning next week.
People are going to dream of 11-5 and all that comes with it after the Cardinals thrashing. Today’s game was that easy. Almost too easy. And the hardest task this week is probably going to be avoiding over-confidence, keeping minds sharp and focused. The Seahawks won’t meet an opponent as pathetic as Arizona were today for a couple of decades. Maybe longer.
What were the key positives that could run over into next week? Anthony McCoy had a big day and could actually develop into a useful target over the next few weeks, especially now that Braylon Edwards has been cut. Bobby Wagner continues to have an underrated season and should win defensive rookie of the year. Who else should win it? Luke Kuechly? Wagner has achieved much more than Kuechly this year, but doesn’t get anywhere near the same national attention.
Walter Thurmond had a good game, certainly good enough to suggest the Seahawks shouldn’t feel the absence of Brandon Browner too much. It’s easy to forget Thurmond was locking down Larry Fitzgerald last season before his latest injury. Richard Sherman’s suspension appears likely to be pushed back from December 14th. It could easily be moved into next season, which would allow the Seahawks plenty of time to adequately prepare for that situation. That’ll be key – because Sherman again showed today why he’s so important to this defense.
I always like to end these pieces with an angle on the draft. But what did we actually learn today? There’s only one thing I can think of. In the second half, Matt Flynn led Sidney Rice over the middle for a completion. Rice got slammed by a defensive back, drawing a flag for an illegal hit. The Seahawks were a concussion away from too much reliance on Golden Tate next week in Buffalo. So while the receivers have performed well in recent weeks, the depth needs to be improved. And it’s not an area that can simply be brushed aside for later rounds. If the best player available when the Seahawks pick in round one is a receiver, they have to consider it. There should be several options for the Seahawks if they wanted to go in that direction – Brandon Coleman, Markus Wheaton, DeAndre Hopkins, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin and Justin Hunter to name a few. This team can’t do enough to make life easier for Russell Wilson.
And speaking of Seattle’s quarterback, he was a little off today. He sustained a couple of nice drives again, but also threw his first interception at home. It seemed like an avoidable situation, with the Seahawks getting greedy with the points piling up. He also missed on a couple of potential scoring throws, in particular a shot to Sidney Rice that had too much juice and an under-thrown ball to Robert Turbin. He made up for it with a touchdown to Zach Miller before half time, but it was a fair reminder today that even in a 58-0 beat down – he’s still a rookie. And he’s not incapable of having a slight off day. Fans will have to remember that, especially if this team does get into the playoffs. Expectation is high for Wilson which is understandable. But it still needs to be managed.