Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer 14d

Cardinals hope familiarity with Seahawks helps on short week

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There may not have been a better team for the Arizona Cardinals to play on Thursday than the Seattle Seahawks (8:25 p.m. ET, NBC).

Coming off a short week after winning in San Francisco on Sunday, the Cardinals will have walk-throughs all week. They'll be preparing for a football game on three days' rest with little -- if any -- football work, instead going through a rigorous mental prep this week.

So being familiar with the Seahawks, having played them eight times in the past four years, should pay off.

"Seattle knows the plays that we like to run," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "They know us. We know them. It just really comes down to the one-on-one, individual matchup."

The Seahawks have, for the most part, been the most consistent opponent Arizona has played under coach Bruce Arians since 2013. They've had the same head coach, quarterback and defensive core, unlike the other two NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, who have not only gone through regime changes recently but have played a bevy of players at key skill positions over the past five years.

But there will be a point where the Cardinals' familiarity won't matter, especially if Seattle safety Earl Thomas doesn't play. Then there's the addition of Sheldon Richardson to the defensive line.

The changes those two can have on the lineup will make Fitzgerald watch tape.

"You want to familiarize with some of the guys that potentially might be on the field and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are because this game is always close," Fitzgerald said.

"The last few times we played them, it's been a back-and-forth slugfest."

Then there's the reality Arizona won't be able to properly prepare for the Seahawks this week because they're not holding a true practice.

"It helps, it helps," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "But you can't prepare for the type of speed you're going to see out there like today in the walk-through. It's a whole different level of speed between [defensive end] Frank [Clark], [defensive end Michael] Bennett, the linebackers, the secondary. It's a whole different level. Those guys are famous for being a great defense for a reason, and we've got to make sure we rise to the occasion.

"Sometimes we have, sometimes we haven't. Hopefully we do on Thursday and get off that hump of not winning at home against these guys."

Or as Fitzgerald put it bluntly: "It's always a bloodbath when you play these guys."

The host Cardinals are 0-3-1 against the Seahawks at home under Arians -- but they're 3-1 in Seattle.

Arizona will have years of historical data to comb through leading up to Thursday night. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said he'll use that to put his plan together defensively.

But there are things about Seattle that Arizona knows -- but which it can't prepare for.

For example, they know quarterback Russell Wilson will run, either on a designed play or to extend a broken play. But what the Cardinals don't know is when that will happen.

"We just have to be ready for it," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "It's something we can't practice for. We can look at it all day. We just have to be disciplined."

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