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Arizona Cardinals

Using stats to look at keys to the Seahawks-Cardinals game

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

If you listen to Doug & Wolf, you know I love stats. ESPN Stats & Info just produced a great piece on the Seahawks at Cardinals game.

If you want the whole link, here it is. If you want just the highlights, keep reading.

ESPN Stats & Info: The Seahawks are just 5-6 on the road over the last two regular seasons. In road games this season, the Seattle defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks a 69 Total QBR. That means the average quarterback playing at home against Seattle is basically producing at a Pro Bowl level this year.

I'm not a huge fan of the QBR because it has a ton of subjective qualities yet I see the value of this info. Russell Wilson has never lost a home game but look at the road record. The defense stat is stark on QB rating. It shows the enormous affect the crowd noise has on Seattle's opponents. You take that crowd noise away and the defense goes from "stellar" to "solid."

ESPN Stats & Info: Wilson has attempted 65 throws off play action this season, the second-highest total in the league, and his 93.5 Total QBR on such throws ranks behind only Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

Important point because it shows Wilson isn't a total dog as QB but he's a little over-hyped after his successful rookie season. Take away Marshawn Lynch and you've taken away a great deal of Wilson's effectiveness.

ESPN Stats & Info: Carson Palmer has more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) when throwing to Fitzgerald this season. When Kurt Warner throws to Larry Fitzgerald the Cardinals TD/INT ratio is +19 but when the other 8 Cardinal QBs since Warner's retirement throw to Fitz the number goes to -10.

I think we all understand. The bad QBs force the ball to Fitz because they panic and don't read coverage. Warner forced teams to cover everyone because he was willing to throw to anyone, therefore passes to Fitz weren't forced.

ESPN Stats & Info: Over the last two seasons, the Cardinals are 1-7 against their fellow NFC West teams, the worst divisional record of any team in the NFL. However, the only win was the aforementioned win over the Seahawks in last season's Week 1.

Remember when Michael Bidwill said that he fired Whisenhunt because he was worried the Cardinals were falling behind the rest of the division? It's hard to argue the point.

ESPN Stats & Info: Lynch has 487 rushing yards this season, the third-most in the NFL. He's done a large part of his work in the first quarter with 231 of those rushing yards (more than 47 percent) coming in the first quarter.

This goes back to the Wilson play-action stats. LBs and DBs are much more disciplined at the beginning of a game.

If Wilson starts a ton of play-action in the first quarter, it won't be totally believable because Lynch hasn't started gashing. Every team thinks they have a plan to stop Lynch. Panic doesn't set in until they realize the plan didn't work. Panic by the defense leads to play-action by the offense.

We all know a huge key to the game is protecting Carson Palmer with the assumption protection will lower his turnover totals. Protecting Palmer is far and away the number one issue. It could be argued the second thing to study in this game, based on ESPN Stats & Info, is how well the Cards handle Lynch in the first quarter. If Lynch ends the 1st quarter with 50 or more yards rushing, it's the 7 that will go up instead of the 1 in the recent NFC West division games for the Cardinals.

About the Author


School: Ohio University...Go Bobcats!

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: 1st Doug & Wolf Show: 1/2/07

Favorite sports memory: Goldschmidt's triple icing the 2011 NL West title because it was a daddy-daughter day at the ballpark and Bellbrook vs. Dunbar '89 when I hit my one varsity HR.

Favorite all-time athlete: as a kid, Magic...as an adult, Grant Hill

Favorite sports movies: Field of Dreams

Best sports road trip: My honeymoon...wedding Saturday...Braves vs. Reds Sunday Night...Cooperstown Monday through Thursday morning...Jennifer sings the Anthem Thursday night at Fenway... Sox/White Sox triple play and cycle in the same game for only the second time in baseball history...Saturday night Clemens strikes out 9 through 7 but the bullpen blows it and the crowd is furious.

Best game I've ever seen live: Suns/Spurs Game 5 2007 Western Semis (the game w/o Amare & Boris). Hated the outcome but loved the experience.

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