The Arizona Cardinals appear to be rounding into form as they prepare to host the Seahawks Sunday night in Glendale.
Here’s a preview of Seattle’s opponent for a game Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in Glendale.
2016 record: 3-3
Coach: Bruce Arians (37-17 in four years in Arizona —- was also 9-3 as interim coach of the Colts in 2012.)
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Series record: It’s tied at 17 with Seattle having won five of the last seven and eight of the last 12. But it’s been a somewhat odd series of late with Arizona having won two of the last three meetings in Seattle with the Seahawks winning the last three in Arizona, all in blowout fashion. Seattle’s three wins in Arizona have all come by 12 points or more, including last year’s 36-6 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is 4-2 against Arians.
Early line: Cardinals by 1.
QB Carson Palmer: Palmer is now 36 and some early struggles this season led some to wonder if he’s beginning to decline. But he turned in a nicely efficient game in Monday night’s 28-3 win over the Jets with 213 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Palmer, though, left midway through the fourth quarter with a hamstring strain. Before Monday night Arizona had been 2-5 in Palmer’s previous seven starts dating to last season. He also missed Arizona win last Thursday at San Francisco with a concussion. Palmer won the Heisman Trophy as the quarterback for Pete Carroll’s USC team in 2002.
WR Larry Fitzgerald: The 33-year-old remains one of the most consistent receivers in the NFL — he’s caught five or more passes in all six games this season and has 37 for the season for 410 yards after catching six passes against the Jets. He’s even more of a possession receiver these days, though, as he doesn’t have a reception of longer than 29 yards.
RB David Johnson: Now in his second year, Johnson has progressed from exciting complementary piece to offensive mainstay. After rushing for 581 yards last season as a rookie when he mostly backed up Chris Johnson, David Johnson is now the starter and has proven up to the task. A 58-yard touchdown run sparked a 111-yard effort Monday night and gave him 568 for the season. He also now has eight rushing touchdowns, two more than anyone in the NFL.
OLB Markus Golden: The second-year player from Missouri has emerged as one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Golden had at least one sack in each of Arizona’s first five games — a franchise record — and six for the season. While he didn’t have any Monday night his pressure on a third-quarter play helped force an interception thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick in the red zone.
The Cardinals’ keys to success: Just in time for the Seahawks to pay a visit to Glendale the Cardinals are beginning to look a little more like the team that was the NFC West champs a season ago and considered a legit threat to get to the Super Bowl this year. The Cardinals lost three of their first four, including a surprising 17-13 home defeat to the Rams in which Arizona lost five turnovers and scored just one touchdown despite gaining 420 yards. But against two of the bottom-feeders of the NFL — the 49ers and Jets — the Cardinals have righted the ship the last two weeks, winning by a combined 61-24 to improved to 3-3. Arizona’s defense has been largely similar to last season when the Cardinals ranked second in turnovers forced, fifth in yards allowed and seventh in points allowed — Arizona was fifth in the NFL in total defense heading into Monday night at 308 yards per game and then held the Jets to 230, including just 33 rushing on 14 attempts. And the Cardinals continue to be opportunistic — Arizona forced two more turnovers Monday and now lead the NFL with 14. One big difference is a passing attack that isn’t producing big plays at anywhere near the level of a year ago. The Cardinals averaged 8.5 yards per attempt last season to lead the NFL (the Seahawks were second at 8.3). But Arizona was averaging just 6.7, 25th in the NFL before Monday night when the Cardinals averaged 6.4 per attempt.
BY THE NUMBERS
21 — Career touchdowns scored by Arizona running back David Johnson, already a franchise record for a player in his first two seasons.
95-34 — Combined score for the Seahawks in their three wins the last three seasons at Arizona.
2-0 — Times Bruce Arians has been named coach of year since 2012 compared to Pete Carroll.