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Under the Helmet Week 4: Pro Handicapper Previews Seahawks/Cardinals

Dave Michaels of SportsInformationTraders analyzes the debut start of rookie Arizona QB Josh Rosen.

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During the first three weeks of the NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals defense has been the doormat of the league—getting walked over pretty much all the time.

Even worse than the Cardinals’ 18th-ranked D and 24.7 points allowed per game, however, is the team’s offense, which ranks last in the NFL with a paltry 6.7 points per game.

Looking to improve upon that at home this week, the winless Cardinals are hosting the Seahawks, who fly into Arizona at 1-2 after their winning their first game of the year last week against the Cowboys in Seattle.

In an effort to jumpstart their scoring, Arizona will be starting rookie quarterback Josh Rosen for the first time, a move that doesn’t quite reek, but definite has strong whiffs, of desperation.

Rookie Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen will make his first career NFL start this week against the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Filling in for previous starter Sam Bradford who was benched last week, Rosen completed 4 out of 7 passes for 36 yards and scrambled for another 12, but tossed a game-ending interception.

Rosen will be facing a 15th-ranked Seahawks defense that is a shadow of its former self, but is at least somewhat respectable (allowing 21.3 points per game). But the rookie QB may be without top target Larry Fitzgerald, and so has his work cut out for him.

Consider: Seattle has allowed just three completions on throws 15 yards or further downfield (the fewest in the league), whereas Arizona is averaging 20.4 yards from scrimmage per drive (also the fewest in the league).

Translation: the ‘Hawks are in a prime position to act like buzzards and pick Rosen and the Arizona offense apart in the desert.

On the other side of the ball, Seattle will likely be able to ride their running game for most of the afternoon as there won’t be much pressure on Russell Wilson to pass to score points. Also, he may not want to as Arizona is the only team that has yet to allow a touchdown to a wide receiver this season.

This week on the road at Arizona, QB Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks will try to ride the momentum from the team’s first win of the season last week against the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Instead, Seattle can follow the same strategy that other teams have had success with against Arizona—keeping the ball on the ground. Opposing backfields are averaging more than 30 rushing attempts and 37 touches per game against the Cardinals, tops in the NFL.

Likely due to the momentum Seattle brings into this matchup between the two struggling NFC West franchises, they are giving three points despite being the road team.

And, that may be enough for the Seahawks to cover, at least that’s how handicapper Dave Michaels of SportsInformationTraders sees it.

“In Seattle’s solid win last week over the Cowboys, we saw a lot of new faces becoming more comfortable with Pete Carroll’s system,” Michaels told RealClearLife. “Their defense has played aggressively all season, and should continue to improve as the season continues.”

And, despite the desperation level in Arizona and the introduction of Rosen into the Cardinals’ offense, that aggressive Seahawks defense, complemented by a steady ground attack, should keep on rolling this Sunday.

“John Rosen looked okay spreading the ball around last week—despite throwing an interception—and he will no doubt approach his first start with confidence,” Michaels said. “The Cardinals rank last in too many offensive categories to name, having scored just 20 points through three games. At 0-3, they are basically facing a must-win at home, but they will not get it done this week.”

He added: “I don’t see Wilson being held under 20 points by this team, which should be more than enough to cover the three points they are getting in a low-scoring affair.”

After being dead on with his picks in Weeks 1 and 2, Michaels missed on the 49ers and an extra seven points being able to overtake the Chiefs last week in Kansas City.

To be fair, there’s no way he could have predicted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would tear his ACL and have to leave the game (as well as miss the season) thanks to the injury.

Now 2-1 with his calls on the season, Michaels—and hopefully you—will look to get back on the right side of the ledger this week.