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Seahawks, Cardinals brace for huge tilt

The Arizona Cardinals have not won the NFC West since the days of Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin. However, they find themselves at prime position exactly halfway through the season, sitting comfortably at 6-2 and two games ahead of the Seattle Seahawks.

Arizona has been playing terrific football since the start of the season, showcasing both a dominant offense and a deadly defense. The Cardinals began the campaign with three convincing wins, hammering the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. It served notice to the rest of the National Football League that both Carson Palmer is fully healed from his torn ACL, and that Arizona intended to compete for a Super Bowl.

On the flip side, Seattle has been anything but dominant. The Seahawks stumbled out of the gate, losing in overtime at the Edward Jones Dome to the St. Louis Rams before going to Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football and giving away another fourth-quarter lead. It was a rough 0-2 start, which seemed to be remedied by the following two weeks. Seattle toppled the Bears in easy fashion before winning a controversial game on Monday Night Football over the woeful Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field.

However, the Seahawks would then go on the road and blow a 17-point lead in the second half to the Cincinnati Bengals, eventually losing in overtime. The following week saw the undefeated Carolina Panthers come into Seattle and rise form the dead, winning after trailing by nine points in the final minutes.

All of this sets up this Sunday night, when the Cardinals travel to take on the Seahawks, winners of the last two NFC West crowns.

Seattle has to win to have any hope of winning the division for the third straight year. Russell Wilson has been sacked 31 times a number that needs to alarm even the most optimistic Seahawks fan. The question is whether the Cardinals can get home and cause the kind of problems many other teams have for Seattle’s offensive line. Arizona has racked up only 13 sacks, good for a tie of 27th across the NFL.

On the other side of the ball, can Palmer beat the Legion of Boom? Seattle lost Byron Maxwell in the offseason but still has Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Can those defensive backs (and Cary Williams) keep the trio of Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown under wraps?

This will be one of the best games of the year. Arizona is trying to prove it is the new big dog in the West, while Seattle aims to prove it is still its time.

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