O’Neil: Seahawks have should-win, not must-win, game Sunday — and that test is even more important
Last week, the Seattle Seahawks won a game they absolutely needed to.
This week, we’ll find out if they’re capable of winning a game they’re supposed to.
That’s the most straightforward way to set up Seattle’s game at Arizona on Sunday. The Seahawks should win this game and not just because the Cardinals are one of three winless teams in the league. The Seahawks should win this game because the Cardinals are a winless team rolling out a rookie quarterback for his first NFL start after what is an unimaginably awful start for their offense.
Arizona has scored 20 points in three games, which is a league low. By a lot. No other team has scored fewer than 50. There are 28 different players in the league who have scored more points individually than the Cardinals have managed as a team.
So you can talk all you want about the lack of game tape the Seahawks have on Josh Rosen, the rookie from UCLA who’s going to start his first NFL game, or how dangerous a threat the versatile David Johnson is out of the Cardinals’ backfield. The reality is that if the Seahawks at 1-2 can’t beat a team this bad on the road, the playoffs are nothing more than a pipe dream which makes this game every bit as important as last week’s home opener against Dallas.
The Seahawks were 0-2 entering that game and while a well-rounded victory over Dallas kept the bottom from dropping out of Seattle’s season, they’re not even back to even ground yet.
They are getting healthier, though. Expect receiver Doug Baldwin to play this week after missing the past two games with a sprained knee. Center Justin Britt should be back, too, after he did not play last week against Dallas because of a shoulder injury.
Being even remotely competent offensively will be enough for Seattle to win in Arizona, but anyone who watched the Seahawks’ Week 2 loss in Chicago knows that a remotely competent offense is not a given with this team.
But the Seahawks looked better last week. Chris Carson carried the ball 32 times, proving that Seattle was actually capable of doing what it said when it came to a game plan. Russell Wilson was back to being supremely efficient despite the fact receiver Brandon Marshall dropped a couple of third-down passes early in the game.
More than anything else, the Seahawks showed they weren’t terrible with that victory over Dallas. Lose in Arizona and we’ll go back to wondering just how bad these Seahawks are, but that’s not going to happen. Not to a rookie quarterback taking over an offense that has been absolutely inert through the first four games.
The Seahawks are going to win this game 23-13, and it’s not going to feel even that close.