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Seattle Seahawks

What to watch for when the Seahawks take on the Cardinals in Week 7, plus prediction

Seattle’s offensive line protects Geno Smith as he drops back to pass last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati.  (Getty Images)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Can the Seahawks continue to bring some normalcy to their series against the Arizona Cardinals?

Seahawks fans may not need reminding how this has been one of weirder series for much of the Pete Carroll era. In a nine-year stretch from 2013-21, Arizona won at Seattle six times. And during that same stretch the Seahawks went 7-1-1 against the Cardinals in Arizona.

Last year, the Seahawks put an end to some of the weird back-and-forth in this series by winning both games – and they have taken four out of five and two of the past three at home.

Those are trends the Seahawks are favored to continue, listed as much as an eight-point favorite against the 1-5 Cardinals when they meet Sunday at Lumen Field at 1:05 p.m.Let’s take a look at our weekly keys to the game and prediction.

Matchup to watch

Seahawks’ rushing attack vs. Cardinals’ run defense.

While much was made of Geno Smith’s struggles in key moments last week, the entire offense would look better if the running game was more consistent. The Seahawks rank 16th in the NFL in rushing yards per attempt at 4.2, which is down from the 4.8 of last season which ranked seventh. They have been held to 87 yards or lower three times. Leading rusher Kenneth Walker III is averaging the same 4.2 that the team is, down from his 4.6 of last season. The Seahawks have played some decent defenses of late with a sometimes-patchwork offensive line. The OL may be healthier this week, and Arizona is not one of the better run defenses, allowing 4.5 per attempt, 25th in the NFL. So, this could be a good week to get the running game well.

Player to watch

QB Geno Smith

The inability to score touchdowns on two late drives last week inside the 10-yard line, either of which might have been enough win a game, resulted in the first real significant criticism of Smith since taking over the QB job last season. Smith said all the right things after the game and again during his news conference Thursday about taking accountability and knowing he needs to do better. Now the task is to live up to those words. By just about every statistical metric available, the Cardinals are a below-average defense, and the Seahawks are at home. So there’s no reason the offense shouldn’t be a little more efficient at turning yards and scoring opportunities into points this week. And it all starts with Smith.Coaching decision to watch

The rotation at safety

The Seahawks appeared to keep Jamal Adams on a pitch count against the Bengals as he played 46 of 54 defensive snaps. His return to full-game status for the first time since the opener in 2022 meant Julian Love – who was starting and had played 66 snaps or more in each of the first four games – was limited to just 24. Love said afterward he understood. But for now, he appears to have been relegated to a third safety role – and might play even fewer snaps if Adams goes back to playing every down. They plan to make liberal use of three-safety sets, but Devon Witherspoon’s emergence as an every-down player and role as the nickel might mitigate that package since Witherspoon serves the same role as a third safety often times. How the Seahawks continue to put this all together – and how effective it is from week to week – will be intriguing to watch. Either way, the key at this spot will be making sure mobile Arizona QB Joshua Dobbs doesn’t do much damage with his legs.

The X-factor

DK Metcalf

We’re not referring here to his production, which in general is in line with the rest of his career. He’s listed as questionable with rib and hip injuries and how productive if he can be if he plays through them. One thing no one can question is Metcalf’s toughness. He’s battled the rib injury since Week 2 against Detroit and played the second half last week with hip injury. What we are also referring to is what has become the now-weekly intrigue if he will draw a penalty – and particularly one that doesn’t really impact the play. Metcalf struck many as defiant this week when asked about an unnecessary-roughness penalty Sunday against the Bengals, which seemed at odds with Carroll saying just minutes before that Metcalf knows he has to clean things up. Every team the rest of the way can be expected to test Metcalf’s temperament.

Player who could surprise

Running back DeeJay Dallas

With backup running back Zach Charbonnet questionable with a hamstring injury, four-year vet Dallas could have a bigger role as the complementary back behind Walker. Dallas has played mostly in the 2-minute/third-down package and has just 14 yards on five carries this season as well as 11 yards receiving on three carries. Dallas has shown some explosiveness on kickoff (25.9 per attempt) and punt (14.5 per attempt) returns and undoubtedly would embrace getting the ball a bit more.

Key Stat

Third- and fourth-down conversions

The Seahawks’ third-down numbers are a weekly discussion. Consider that despite improvement last week (5-12 on offense and 3-11 on defense) they have a huge disparity in how well they convert third downs versus how well they defend them. The Seahawks remain at 18 of 57, 31.6%, converting third downs while their opponents are 36 of 74, 48.6%. They are just 2 of 6 on fourth downs while their opponents are 4 of 9. Those trends caught up to the Seahawks again last Sunday at Cincy as they were a combined 5 of 14 on third/fourth downs including 2 of 8 in the second half and 1of 6 in the fourth quarter.

Prediction

Seahawks 27, Cardinals 16.

While disappointing in its result, the Bengals loss left the Seahawks optimistic about the big picture. They need to not slip up as a home favorite against a 1-5 team. But if the defense plays as it has the last two weeks that shouldn’t be much of an issue.