SEATTLE — The Seahawks, for what it's worth, have one of the 10 best offenses in the NFL and a quarterback playing at an MVP level. (And no his name is not Russell Wilson.) The Seahawks have been a pleasant surprise already and a fun team to watch on a weekly basis. Now they have a struggling division rival coming to Lumen Field on Sunday.
- Matchup: Seahawks (2-3) vs. Cardinals (2-3)
- Time: Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
- Location: Lumen Field, Seattle, Washington
- Key Seahawks: Geno Smith (QB), Kenneth Walker III (RB), DK Metcalf (WR)
- Key Cardinals: Kyler Murray (QB), Marquise Brown (WR), JJ Watt (DE)
The rookie's time to shine
The Seahawks will be without running back Rashaad Penny for the rest of the season after he suffered a broken fibula in his lower left leg in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.
Penny also had a significant high ankle sprain, ending his season after just five games. Penny had 346 rushing yards in five games before the injury.
The 2018 first-round pick will end up missing 40 of his first 82 NFL games with injuries including a knee strain, quad strain, calf strain, ACL tear, hamstring string and now a fractured leg.
Now the Seahawks will hand its lead running back role to Kenneth Walker III, the promising rookie from Michigan State who they drafted with the 41st overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Walker III already flashed his game-breaking ability with a 69-yard touchdown run last week. His 40-yard dash (4.38) and speed score (114.7) are both in the 98th percentile at his position, according to Player Profiler. Factoring his physical attributes and collegiate production, Player Profiler listed LaDanian Tomlinson as Walker III's best comparable.
Tomlinson is a Hall of Famer, for reference. That should give you an idea of Walker III's prodigious potential.
The disappointing Cardinals' offense
This isn't what the Cardinals' offense should look like.
For one, Arizona has one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL. Kyler Murray was good enough in the Cardinals' minds to be worth a $230 million contract, with $160 million guaranteed.
The idea was that the Cardinals would continue to improve upon its offense, but the first five games have underwhelmed according to expectations.
After five games, the Cardinals are 15th in total offense (352.2 yards per game) and 18th in scoring offense (21.0 points per game). The team was 11th in total offense and seventh in scoring offense last year, respectively. Arizona is behind the Seahawks, Jets and Lions in offense, a trio of teams that had far lower offensive expectations.
Murray has thrown just six touchdowns in five starts. His rushing production has dipped for a second consecutive season (26.6 rushing yards per game, down from 51.2 in 2020).
The pieces are there at least for a strong offense. Wide receiver Marquise Brown has been a bright spot, wide receiver Rondale Moore is a speedy slot receiver, tight end Zach Ertz is a steady option in the middle of the field and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is nearing a return from his six-game suspension for a banned substance.
And here's another positive for the Cardinals: The Seahawks are allowing a league-worst 8.9 yards per pass attempt this season against the likes of Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo (after Trey Lance exited with an injury), Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff and Andy Dalton. None of these quarterbacks are above-average.
If Murray and the Cardinals can't get it done offensively Sunday, it might be time to panic.
Cardinals 35, Seahawks 31.
Based on the matchups, we are in line for a ton of offense this weekend. Let's hope reality meets expectations.