But every conversation about it circles back to the same question: Is it a true rivalry?
Coach Bruce Arians said no.
“It’s not a rivalry unless you win,” Arians said. “We haven’t won long enough to make it a rivalry. We’ve got to beat them two or three times to make it a rivalry.”
Arizona enters Sunday night’s game in Seattle 1-3 against the Seahawks under Arians -- a record that doesn’t scream, shout or whisper rivalry. The Cardinals hope to starting shifting the power in this matchup starting this weekend.
Here are five reasons the Cardinals can go to Seattle and leave with a win:
Carson Palmer. The last time he played the Seahawks, it was 2013 matchup in Seattle -- and the Cardinals won. It also happened to be the last time Arizona beat the Seahawks. With Palmer under center this week, the Cardinals offensive is in better hands than they were last season against the Seahawks with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley. Arizona is the second-highest scoring team in the NFL this season with Palmer and is ranked second in offensive efficiency. And don’t forget that Palmer is having an MVP-caliber season and is on pace to set career highs in passing yards and touchdown passes.
Improved run game. The safest way to prevent Palmer from having wet passes intercepted in the rain Sunday night will be to keep the ball on the ground. And Arizona has the perfect answer to burn the clock with the run. Chris Johnson is averaging 4.8 yards per carry while the Cardinals as a team are averaging 4.5. Seattle has struggled to be successful against good running teams this year, going 1-3 when giving up 100 or more rushing yards. Johnson just so happens to be coming off back-to-back 100-yard games.
Blitz, blitz, blitz. This is like bringing a race car driver to the freeway and telling him there’s not a speed limit. He already drives fast. Now he can drive even faster. The Cardinals like -- check that, love -- to blitz. They’ve blitzed the most in the NFL since 2013, when Arians took over, bringing pressure on 46 percent of snaps. Against Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, they can pin their ears back and blitz even more. Wilson is 21st in completion percentage, 16th in yards per attempt and 27th in passer rating when defenses send pressure. Wilson is averaging 5.03 yards per dropback against pressure, which ranks 26th -- down significantly from eighth a year ago and second in 2013.
Pass rush coming out party. Outside linebacker Alex Okafor is coming back from a calf injury just in time. The Seahawks, whose offensive line once typically put fear into defensive fronts, can’t scare itself. They are allowing Wilson to get pressured on a league-high 39.6 percent of snaps this season. Wilson has been sacked a league-high 31 times. The Cardinals’ pass-rushers have been aching to have a breakout game and this very well could be it with a healthy unit of Okafor, veterans LaMarr Woodley and Dwight Freeney, and rookie Markus Golden all a part of the rotation. Arizona has 13 sacks on the season.
Carson Palmer. Again. Did I say Carson Palmer already? If Arizona wins by 30 or loses by a field goal, the reason will be Palmer. With Palmer on the field, the confidence of not just Arizona’s offense but the entire team has spiked. “Anytime we’re playing with him on the field, we feel like we can beat anybody anywhere,” Arians said. Not that there’s any pressure or anything.