Thursday Night Preview - Week 7
We’re now mere hours away from the start of Week 7, which kicks off with a divisional clash between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. While Seattle has been in control of the division all season, they haven’t been anywhere near the juggernaut most analysts made them out to be at the onset of the season. They currently hold just a one-game lead over the San Francisco 49ers and only two games separate the entire division. On the flip side, Arizona has been inconsistent but still able to pull off some big wins, which has kept them afloat in the division longer than most probably thought they would be.
This game really is a must-win for both teams. The Seahawks can’t afford a loss to a division rival that would close the already-close gap. On the other hand, Arizona obviously needs to win this game if they hope to stay in contention for the division and keep their playoff hopes alive. Let’s take a look at a couple of key factors to the outcome of tonight’s matchup.
Russell Wilson’s Road Woes
By now it shouldn’t be much of a secret that Seattle has struggled on the road in recent years. But did you know that Wilson has yet to win a road game against a divisional opponent? After putting up less-than-desirable home/road splits in his rookie year, Wilson continues to struggle on the road so far this season. Through the first six games, three of them came on the road. In these games, Wilson has a completion percentage 3.6 percent lower than home games, averaged just under one yard less per attempt, has less touchdowns, as many interceptions, has been sacked more times and has a quarterback rating 16.8 points lower.
The Seahawks’ offensive line is a mess, with tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomin out with injuries, they’ve been the seventh-worst pass-blocking unit with a -16.8 grade and are putting up just 215 yards-per-game through the air, which is ninth fewest in the league. The only good news here for Seattle is that Arizona has struggled against the pass this season. They’re ranked 20th in pass rush with a -2.3 grade, 15th in pass coverage with a -4.3 and are allowing 260 passing YPG, which is 19th in the league this season. If Wilson can overcome is history of poor road performances, he could be in for a big day.
Arizona’s Run Defense
The only real bright spot for Arizona so far this season has been their run defense. The unit has performed well all season, limiting opposing teams to an average of just 90.7 rushing YPG, which is the fifth fewest in the league and are ranked 10th with +11.1 grade.
Marshawn Lynch has been able to have success all season, averaging 80.83 YPG and scoring five touchdowns, which is good for third-best among fantasy running backs. He’s done this, despite running behind the fourth-worst run-blocking unit with a -23.6 grade. Lynch is showing the effects of such poor blocking, having been limited in practice the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. Coming off a short week, this could be seriously problematic for Lynch and Seattle tonight.
If ever a team were poised to shut down Lynch, it would be Arizona this week. If the Cardinals can keep Lynch from grinding it out on the ground, it will go a long way to allowing them to possibly secure a victory at home.
Fantasy X-Factor: Russell Wilson
With Arizona’s run defense playing extremely well and Lynch dealing with a nagging hamstring issue, Wilson will need to step up big for Seattle to come away with the victory. Look for Wilson to put the team on his shoulders and take shots downfield early to keep the defense honest and open up the opportunity for him to scramble for big gains and make things easier for Lynch. If Wilson can overcome his problems on the road, he can finish the week as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.