Five matchups that may determine the outcome of Sunday’s game:
QB Russell Wilson vs. OLB LaMarr Woodley
The strategy against Wilson is to keep him inside the pocket by preventing him from escaping around the tackle. DT Calais Campbell has feasted on Seattle for this reason. Woodley doesn’t have the speed around the corner anymore, but must stay disciplined in maintaining the edge and forcing Wilson to stay inside.
CB Richard Sherman vs. WR John Brown
Sherman has shadowed opponents’ top receivers much more frequently this year. We’ll find out who Seattle thinks is the Cards’ #1 receiver on the first snap of the game. It’s possible that the Cards are multiple enough to force the Seahawks to play sides much of the time, but I don’t expect Arians to avoid throwing in
S Earl Thomas vs. QB Carson Palmer
Thomas is the straw that stirs the drink for the Legion of Boom. His range allows all the complementary players to be aggressive. Palmer’s interceptions this season have been arm-punts that allowed defensive backs to undercut his targets. Palmer will test Seattle deep; Thomas will try and force Palmer to guess wrong.
RB Marshawn Lynch vs. $B Deone Bucannon
Cardinals writer Darren Urban admitted that some fans and announcers have gotten out over their skis on Bucannon in a chat last week: “He does clearly make some mistakes. …If you are waiting for another D-Wash, I think you’re going to be disappointed.” Bucannon needs to stay focused on gap control and tackling technique.
OC Drew Nowak vs. DT Rodney Gunter
The story of Gunter’s first half is that he hasn’t been overpowered or out-techniqued by the Big Fish of the NFL. Gunter has an opportunity to show that he can provide consistent interior pressure versus a terrible interior offensive line.