NFL Preview - Arizona (4-8) at Seattle (7-5)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Ken Whisenhunt evidently hit the name John Skelton on his
dartboard this week.
The Fordham product will take his third turn as Arizona's starting quarterback
when the Cardinals try to avoid matching their longest losing streak in nearly
seven decades Sunday against a Seattle team aiming to stay perfect at home.
Skelton takes over for rookie Ryan Lindley, who replaced Skelton, who took
over for an injured Kevin Kolb, who had replaced an injured Skelton, who went
down in a season-opening win against Seattle.
If your head is spinning, imagine Whisenhunt, who made the latest change after
Lindley's awful performance in North Jersey last Sunday.
The Cards, who had a perfect 4-0 September, lost their eighth straight in Week
13 when Greg McElroy came on in relief of Mark Sanchez in the third quarter
and passed for the lone touchdown of the game as the Jets escaped with a 7-6
victory over Arizona in an otherwise offensively challenged football game.
Lindley was constantly harassed by the Jets defense. He completed just 10-
of-31 throws for 72 yards with an interception and failed to help the
Cardinals convert on a single third down. They finished 0-for-15 for the game
and managed just 137 total yards of offense.
Former Jet Kerry Rhodes has two interceptions and forced a fumble for the
Cardinals but still wasn't satisfied with his return.
"We lost the game," said Rhodes. "I played okay, but we didn't get the win so
it wasn't a good return."
Whisenhunt announced on Wednesday that he will be going back to Skelton, who
was pulled on Nov. 18 in Atlanta for ineffectiveness. Things only got worse
with Lindley at the controls, however, and Arizona is now looking to avoid
losing nine straight in a season since amassing an 0-10 mark in 1943 when
the team was based in Chicago.
"This whole streak we've been in isn't any fun," Whisenhunt said. "You work
hard as a team, you prepare. I don't see any finger-pointing or fracturing.
We've got a good group of players and a good group of young leaders. Make no
mistake: they want to win."
Skelton only got another chance because Kolb, who has missed the last six
games with detached ribs and a sprained shoulder joint, still isn't ready.
"It's another opportunity," Skelton said. "You can't take any opportunity for
granted. If it comes at the end of the season, the beginning of the season, if
you're losing, if you're winning, whatever."
Things are looking a lot better for Seattle, which took a huge step toward the
postseason in Chicago last weekend when Sidney Rice's 13-yard touchdown catch
in overtime lifted the Seahawks over the Bears, 23-17.
Rice ended with six catches for 99 yards for the Seahawks, who have won
three of four overall. His running mate, Golden Tate, hauled in five passes
for 96 yards and a score.
Russell Wilson completed 23-of-37 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns for
Seattle, which improved to 2-5 on the road this season. Wilson also carried
the ball nine times for 71 yards. Marshawn Lynch rushed for another 87 yards
and a touchdown on 19 carries for the victors.
"We're very fortunate to get out of here with a win against a terrific
football team. We needed it badly and we're excited to go back home and finish
this thing off," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We needed to get a couple
wins on the road and at least we got one so far."
The Seahawks had taken three straight in this series before losing the last
two, including a season-opening 20-16 defeat at Arizona on Sept. 9.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
It's so tough to win in the NFL without competent quarterback play and
Arizona's has been anything but competent. The fact that the team regards the
pedestrian Kolb as some kind of savior at the position tells you all you need
Skelton's passer rating this season is a dismal 64.4 and it dwarfs Lindley's
embarrassing 40.4 effort.
Things figure to get tougher moving forward for the Seahawks defensively with
the knowledge that cornerback Brandon Browner will start serving his four-game
suspension after testing positive for Adderall. Browner dropped an appeal of
the suspension with an eye on returning for the postseason.
Meanwhile, Browner's teammate at the other corner, Richard Sherman, is also
facing a suspension but nothing should slow down a competent unit against this
Cardinals offense, which simply can't get the ball into the hands of its
playmakers on the outside, and is averaging less than 12 points a game during
its current skid.
Seattle's defense has allowed only 13.8 points per game at home, the second
best mark in the NFL. That number has helped the Seahawks compile a perfect
5-0 mark at CenturyLink Field in 2012.
Offensively Wilson has an NFL-best 122.0 passer rating at home but the
Seahawks still rely on Lynch, who is second in the NFL with 1,138 rushing
yards, to move the chains and set up play-action for the rookie, a player much
more comfortable when the opposition has to bring a safety down in the box to
deal with the bruising Lynch.
"I don't think Russell gets enough credit," Sherman told the team's website.
"I think he should get Rookie of the Year consideration even over those other
guys because he is leading our team in some great games."
Wilson's primary receivers, Rice and Tate, have both turned it up a notch
recently. Rice, a former Pro Bowl selection in Minnesota, was blown up by
Major Wright on his game-winning TD a week ago but has been cleared to return
The Cards haven't won since September and Wilson is 5-0 at home with 11
touchdowns and no interceptions. You do the math.
"He's just so beautifully poised and so confident that it gives himself a
chance to play at this level," Carroll said of his young quarterback. "It's
just surprising that anybody could be like that, not just a rookie or a young
guy. He just continues to be impressive in all of those ways."
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 10
12/06 13:30:46 ET