Coming off their first shutout loss in 10 years, the Seahawks find themselves 2.5-point underdogs ahead of a must-win game against the 8-2 Cardinals at Lumen Field this Sunday. A loss would drop Seattle to 3-7 on the year, potentially sealing its fate of missing the playoffs for just the third time in the Pete Carroll era.
While the odds are stacked against Carroll's crew, there may be no better time to face Arizona than right now. From top to bottom, the NFC's current No. 2 seed is hurting—badly. Star quarterback Kyler Murray and All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins both missed their second straight game due to injury this past Sunday, with the former nursing a lingering ankle issue and the latter a hamstring. This, at least partly, contributed to the Cardinals' dreadful 34-10 loss to the Panthers at home in Week 10.
To make matters worse, backup quarterback Colt McCoy was also unable to finish that game. McCoy completed 11 of 20 pass attempts for 107 yards and an interception before exiting with a strained pectoral muscle, thrusting third-stringer Chris Streveler into mop-up duty. However, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, McCoy "should be healthy enough" if Murray is deemed unable to suit up in Seattle.
Heading into the Carolina game, Arizona was faced with a laundry list of notable appearances on its injury report. While the likes of safety Budda Baker (concussion/knee), receiver Rondale Moore (concussion/neck) and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips (groin) were able to make it back despite limited participation in practice, starting offensive linemen Justin Pugh (calf) and Max Garcia (Achilles) were not as fortunate.
Stepping in their place was left guard Sean Harlow and right guard Josh Jones. Harlow had a strange game in which he was awarded an excellent 86.7 pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus but a 42.6 run blocking grade. Meanwhile, Jones allowed two interior pressures on 36 pass blocking attempts, earning a mediocre overall grade of 59.2 from PFF.
Running back Chase Edmonds was also recently placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. Now, the full-time duties in the Cardinals' backfield have gone to former Steeler James Conner, who's thrived in Edmonds' absence. Since then, he's rushed for 135 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns and has caught eight of nine targets for 102 yards and four touchdowns.
The biggest key here, of course, is the status of Murray. On Wednesday, the third-year quarterback participated in practice, but neither he, nor head coach Kliff Kingsbury, would commit to his availability this Sunday.
"I hope so," Murray responded when asked if he'd play, via Cardinals beat reporter Darren Urban. "I'm pretty close."
Hopkins, however, was not seen on the practice field during Wednesday's session. That would be a massive loss for Murray in his potential return this weekend. But even if the Cardinals have to go to battle without him, the trio of Moore, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk should still pose a formidable threat to a Seahawks' defensive backfield that's made great strides over the past few weeks.
Interestingly, elite pass rusher Chandler Jones was missing from action as well on Wednesday. This could simply be a personal rest day for the 31-year old veteran, though it's certainly something to monitor. Jones has haunted the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson for years, recording 13.5 sacks in nine career games against them—his highest total versus any team.
Nevertheless, all eyes should be on Murray and Hopkins over the coming days. Seattle could use all the help it can get, and avoiding one—or both—would certainly set things up better for the unlikely, yet much-needed upset.
And if they do take the field, there's no guarantee either will be at 100 percent. The Seahawks would still be at a disadvantage, but whatever the case may be, the outlook heading into this one could have been far worse for them.