Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta breaks down this week’s Seahawks opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.
Game time: 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
TV: NBC (Ch. 5).
2015 record: 6-2, first in NFC West.
By the numbers
Arizona’s touchdowns scored, an average of four per game, which leads the NFL. The Seahawks have 16.
Games in which the Cardinals have gained 400 or more yards this season, which equals the games in which they gained 400 or more yards from 2010-14.
Arizona’s yards per play on offense, most in the NFL. Next is New England at 6.3. The Seahawks are at 5.5.
Coach: Bruce Arians.
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The series: Tied 16-16, with the Seahawks winning seven of the past 10 dating to the 2010 season, Pete Carroll first season as their coach. The Seahawks won both games last year — 19-3 in Seattle and 35-6 in Arizona.
Early line: Seahawks by 3.
QB Carson Palmer: The quarterback who got Carroll’s USC career off the ground, winning the Heisman Trophy there in 2002, remains one of the better passers in the NFL as he nears his 36th birthday. Palmer has thrown 20 touchdown passes through eight games, trailing only Tom Brady’s 22, and has a 110.2 passer rating that would be a career high for a full season. The Cardinals are 22-8 in games started by Palmer since the beginning of the 2013 season and 5-5 without him.
RB Chris Johnson: The 30-year-old, signed as a free agent before the season to a one-year deal worth $2 million, looks like the Chris Johnson of old. He ranks third in the NFL with 676 yards, and his 4.8 yards-per-carry average is his best since he gained 2,006 yards in 2009 while with Tennessee. (He went over the 2,000-yard mark in the season finale at CenturyLink Field. This will be his second game in Seattle since then.)
WR Larry Fitzgerald: The 32-year-old is on pace for one of the better seasons of his career, with 55 catches for 706 yards and seven touchdowns. Those totals already come close to matching what he had last year when he was limited to 14 games due to injuries and had 63 receptions for 784 yards and two touchdowns. One game he missed last season was at Seattle, and he was held to four receptions for 33 yards when the teams met in Arizona.
FS Rashad Johnson: Johnson has four interceptions to lead an Arizona secondary, dubbed the “No Fly Zone’’ that has emerged as one of the best in the NFL. The 29-year-old from Alabama undoubtedly has sour memories of a couple of plays that got away in last year’s Seattle win in Arizona in which he was one of the primary defenders. That included an 80-yard pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Luke Willson that got the Seahawks’ offense on track.
Arizona’s keys to success: Arizona, which began last season 9-1 before fading due in part to a spate of injuries that included the loss of Palmer to a knee injury, again is off to another hot start at 6-2. Arizona has done its feasting on some of the lower-rung teams in the NFL — the Cardinals’ six wins have all come against teams with losing records (a 14-36 total record), and their two losses were against teams with non-losing records. Arizona plays just one game the rest of the way against a team that currently has a losing record. Still, the Cardinals have been impressive, ranking fourth in the NFL in total offense at 417.4 yards per game and fourth in total defense at 312.8. One big difference this season has been a vastly improved running attack. Arizona is averaging 124.8 rushing yards per game, ninth in the NFL, compared with 81.8 last season, which was 31st. Palmer and Fitzgerald have been healthy, giving the Cardinals a passing attack averaging 9.2 yards per attempt, more than a half-yard more than any team in the NFL. The Cardinals also have been balanced defensively, ranking fourth against the run at 90.1 yards per game and allowing an opponent passer rating of 74.9, third-best in the NFL.