|Coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks might be without Marshawn Lynch for Sunday's opener against the Cardinals. (Getty Images)|
Seahawks vs. Cardinals -- Week 1
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. (grass, retractable roof)
When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Spread: Seahawks by 2.5
Forecast: Retractable roof will be closed.
2011 records: Cardinals (8-8); Seahawks (7-9)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Sept. 25, 2011: Seahawks 13, Cardinals 10; Jan. 1, 2012: Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20 (OT). Series record: Cardinals hold a 14-12 edge.
What matters: The Seahawks ended 2011 with a bad taste in their mouths, thanks in large part to the Cardinals. In the regular-season finale, Seattle rallied from a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit, only to lose in overtime on a 28-yard Jay Feely field goal. The Seahawks will have a different quarterback Sunday, and they'll be hoping for a different result.
Who matters: Rookies. On offense, rookies will be leading the charge for the Seahawks on Sunday, led by 2012 third-round draft pick QB Russell Wilson. Seventh-round pick J.R. Sweezy will be Seattle's starting right guard, and fourth-round pick Robert Turbin could get the start if Marshawn Lynch (back) can't go. This rookie trio impressed everyone during the preseason, but if the Seahawks are going to win Sunday, the rookies need to prove they can handle the pressures of the regular season.
Key matchups: Arizona QB John Skelton vs. Seattle's defense. The Seahawks' defense was opportunistic in the preseason, forcing 10 turnovers, which ranked third in the league. And don't think the Seattle defense only shows up in the preseason, they picked off 22 passes in 2011, ranking fourth in the NFL. If the Seahawks defensive line, led by Chris Clemons, can put continual pressure on Skelton, there's a good chance they can force the third-year QB to make some major mental mistakes. Skelton has thrown 14 interceptions in 11 career starts and 16 interceptions in 13 career games.
Injuries of note: A lot of fantasy football eyes will be on the Seahawks inactives list Sunday. Pete Carroll confirmed on his weekly radio show Friday that Marshawn Lynch will be a game-time decision. "He's got to get clearance from the doctors, so it's out of our hands. We'll go day-to-day and take it all the way up to game time," Carroll said. WR Golden Tate (knee) will not play. Rookie DE Greg Scruggs (hamstring) missed practice Friday, leaving his status in doubt for Sunday. Tate has been hobbled since spraining his knee in the Seahawks' preseason finale against Oakland. Look for veteran wide receiver Braylon Edwards to start in his place.
Inside stuff: Keep an eye on rookie J.R. Sweezy. The Seahawks' seventh-round draft pick this year played defensive line at North Carolina State but was moved to offensive line after the draft. Sweezy had a phenomenal training camp and will be the team's starting right guard against Arizona on Sunday.
Stat you should know: The Seahawks haven't won a road opener since knocking off Detroit 9-6 in 2006. Seattle finished 9-7 that year and made a run to the divisional round of the playoffs before losing 27-24 in overtime to eventual NFC Super Bowl participant Chicago.
Stat you should know 2: The two starting quarterbacks -- Russell Wilson and John Skelton -- will make a combined $970,000 in base salary in 2012, with Wilson pulling in $540,000 of that. The backup QBs -- Matt Flynn and Kevin Kolb -- will pull in a combined $3 million. Kolb's 2012 cap number is actually $10.5 million, but his base salary is only $1 million, which is still more than Wilson and Skelton will make combined this season.
Record watch: It's not exactly a record, but it's worth noting that with his start Sunday, Russell Wilson will become the first third-round rookie to start a season opener since Buffalo's Joe Ferguson in 1973. With O.J. Simpson in the backfield, Ferguson and the Bills went 9-5 that season.
Looking ahead: With Dallas and Green Bay on the horizon in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively, for Seattle, Sunday's opener against Arizona could almost be considered a must-win game. If the Seahawks can't beat the Cardinals, they could conceivably limp into their Week 4 game against St. Louis 0-3.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 13