Cardinals vs Seahawks: Breaking Down Arizona's Game Plan

Andrew NordmeierContributor IIIDecember 19, 2013

Mendenhall finds the end zone against the Titans.
Mendenhall finds the end zone against the Titans.Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals have a venti-sized task ahead of them Sunday. They have to go to Seattle and figure out a way to beat the Seahawks at home to have hope of chasing down a wild-card spot. The Seahawks are undefeated at home this season and are 12-2 overall.

It’s going to take more than a macchiato to break through a Seattle defense that shut out the New York Giants last week, but it can be done. The Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts have both beaten Seattle, so why couldn’t Arizona be the third team to do so?

Grab yourself a double chocolaty chip frappucino blended crème with no whip and extra espresso shots to get ready for the game plan that Arizona can use to post a win this week. At least it won’t be worse than last year’s 58-0 debacle. Few players currently on the roster were on the team when that disaster happened last season.


Take the crowd out of it as early as possible

CenturyLink Field is one of the most difficult places to hear plays being called. The noise was a world record until the Kansas City Chiefs came along and beat it. Simply put, touchdowns will get the crowd quieter. There’s nothing like a 10-point lead to silence some of the most raucous fans in football.


Keep Carson Palmer upright

It seems like a tired cliché, but it’s true when you take on Seattle. If you can keep your quarterback upright, you have a chance to win. When these two teams met earlier this season, Arizona allowed Palmer to be sacked seven times for 54 yards in total losses. The Cardinals will likely pass often to try and get back in the game if they fall behind. The blitzes will be coming, and the offensive line will have to find ways to give Palmer just enough time to release his passes.

Seattle disguises coverage well as we see on this play. game film diagrammed on PowerPoint

The Seahawks looked to bring their linebackers on a blitz but then dropped off into pass coverage. It essentially left three defenders against the offensive line. Left tackle Bradley Sowell tried to come over but allowed the nose tackle to run free in the backfield for a 13-yard loss. Mistakes like that can’t happen.

The first meeting between the two teams ended with Palmer completing 30-of-45 passes for 258 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. At the time, it was a season-high for completions, and Palmer looked more comfortable.

Let’s take a look at a successful play from the first meeting of the season between these two teams. game film diagrammed on PowerPoint

Palmer is in the shotgun and has a running back alongside him. Arizona has three receivers bunched at the top of the formation and Michael Floyd (white circle) on the bottom of the formation. You can see the route Floyd runs and he makes a three-yard catch before cutting farther left. He picked up a block from Larry Fitzgerald and made a 14-yard gain. Yards after catch are going to be big in this game.


Pick on the new guy, maybe

Seattle found out it will be without cornerback Brandon Browner indefinitely after he lost his appeal yesterday on a year-long suspension. The news, reported by Chris Wesseling of, means Seattle will have a potential weak spot in the secondary. Byron Maxwell was the fill-in starter last week against the Giants and did well against Eli Manning, picking him off twice.

Teams will attack new defenders when they come into a game, and it might be worth trying to attack Maxwell to have him prove he’s more than a one-week wonder.


Involve Ellington effectively to keep the clock moving 

The Cardinals have a very talented rookie running back in Andre Ellington. Not only is he averaging slighty less than six yards per carry, he can also add about 10 yards per catch. He can keep the Seahawks guessing on defense, which makes it hard to stop him. He's quick and unpredictable, which is a change from the plodding style of Rashard Mendenhall. 

There’s no doubt it will be tough but Arizona can follow this game plan and pull a huge upset.