Larry Fitzgerald (Otto Greule/Getty)
The Cardinals get back on the plane to travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks. When the schedule was made, this game would have appeared to have playoff appeal as the two teams were expected to be the top contenders. These days, the Cardinals stand alone. However, don't underestimate Seattle at home. Here are the key matchups and the Cardinals game plan.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett vs. Seahawks RG Floyd Womack -- Dockett is the Cardinals' most dangerous defensive lineman. He's quick off the ball, but he's not huge and can be overpowered.
Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald is having a Pro Bowl season, and he's seeing more double coverage as the season progress. Still, he's hard to stop when the Cardinals concentrate on getting the ball to him.
Cardinals interior offensive linemen vs. Seahawks MLB Lofa Tatupu: The Cardinals interior line is not a powerful group, but it's had some success recently with a power game. That includes some pulling by guards Reggie Wells and Deuce Lutui. Tatupu's quickness and speed will be hard to handle.
INJURY IMPACT: TE Ben Patrick has missed the past four games with a right knee sprain, but coaches are hopeful he'll be able to return this week.
--CB Eric Green missed last week's game with a sore knee but it's not believed to be serious.
SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular-season meeting. The series is tied 9-9, and the teams have split games the past two years, each winning at home. Sunday's game is in Seattle, where the Cardinals have lost five straight, and only one of those losses was by fewer than 11 points. Last year, the Seahawks hammered the Cardinals in Seattle, 42-21, and quarterback Kurt Warner took a beating. He was sacked five times and was hit on numerous other occasions.
GAME PLAN: The Cardinals' offense is based on the pass, and that's not going to change. But they must run better than they did last week against the 49ers (19 for 46). The 49ers ran a lot of line stunts, and that disrupted the run game. Seattle's defense is still hobbling. Even so, look for the Seahawks to come after Warner, who has been deadly against blitzing defenses.
Defensively, the Cardinals seem to give up a big play or two every week. Often, it's because of poor tackling. Even though Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck is expected to return, the Seahawks might try to concentrate on the run to limit the Cardinals' possessions.