A high-flying rematch featuring two of the game’s brightest stars and massive playoff stipulations will kick off the Week 11 slate of NFL action.
Second-season sensation Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals (6-3) face Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks (6-3) at 8:20 p.m. ET at CenturyLink Field on Thursday Night Football, airing on NFL Network, FOX and Amazon Prime.
For the second time in four games, the Cardinals will have a showdown with the Seahawks after Arizona won a thrilling overtime classic, 37-34, in Week 7’s Sunday night offering. Now, Seattle is coming off a close loss that’s made this a battle for first place in the NFC West, while Arizona is days removed from DeAndre Hopkins hauling in one of the most memorable catches — and moments — of the 2020 season to vault his squad past the Bills. Wilson and Murray enter the evening having combined for an eye-popping 56 offensive touchdowns as this game portends to be a high-scoring affair.
Is another hotly contested prime-time showing ahead?
Here’s what to watch for on Thursday night:
Kyler becoming part of the conversation
Russell Wilson. Patrick Mahomes. Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook. Alvin Kamara. Kyler Murray? Everyone loves the most valuable player conversation and there’s no reason Murray shouldn’t be included. Looking to become the third consecutive second-season quarterback to earn MVP hardware, Murray’s second act has seen him once again dazzle with his arm and legs, but also lead the Cardinals into first place and the reality that Arizona is very a legit team in 2020. Once upon a time not that long ago, the Cardinals lost back-to-back weeks to the Lions and Panthers. Murray struggled at times, but now things are most certainly going Murray and the Cards’ way as they’ve won four of the last five. In those five outings, Murray has tallied 16 total touchdowns (10 passing, six rushing) and has had multiple scores in each game. Murray’s fleet feet have carried him to 604 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on the ground, each of them tops among quarterbacks with his yardage eighth in the NFL overall and his TDs second. He’s found success, dramatics and wins all the same. Last year’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year has become an offensive dynamo who’s orchestrating team success along with individual statistics. He went toe to toe with Wilson last time, making fewer mistakes and coming away victorious. Thursday night is likely to loom large going forward in the standings — and perhaps the voting.
Can Russ heat back up?
Wilson’s 2020 AP Most Valuable Player campaign is still alive, but it’s surely taken a hit in the polls. Over the Seahawks’ two-game skid, Wilson has thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions, with two apiece in each of the last two weeks. Beginning with the loss to the Cardinals in Week 7, Wilson has seven picks over the last four games. Still, Wilson’s 2,789 yards passing are tops in the NFC (second in the NFL), and his 28 touchdowns still lead the NFL even after his first TD-less contest against the Rams. But the Rams game was a tough one for the unlimited one, as the zero touchdowns went along with season-lows of a 57.0 rating, 59% completion rate and 6.7 yards per attempt. All that taken in, if the most valuable player is judged by his value to his team, Wilson’s worth has never been more apparent. As Russ goes, so too go the Seahawks. In games in which he has multiple interceptions this season, Seattle is 0-3. In games in which Wilson has one interception or less (all games in which he’s had multiple touchdown passes, as well), the Seahawks are 6-0. We’ll see what Russ cooks up Thursday.
Big-play receivers take centerstage
Authors of two of the most jaw-dropping and mind-spinning plays this season will share the stage on Thursday when receivers DeAndre Hopkins and DK Metcalf ply their trades with all the world watching. An athletic marvel who’s becoming a premier wideout, Metcalf showcased his blinding speed and never-say-die mantra when last these teams played, tracking down the speedy Budda Baker after an interception. And, of course, just a few days ago, Hopkins came down with a Murray Hail Mary despite triple coverage. It’s going to be hard to conjure up an encore of such histrionics, but surely they’ll give it a shot. Along with highlight reels, Hopkins and Metcalf are putting forth huge campaigns, the Seahawks standout producing 43 catches for 788 yards and eight touchdowns, while the former Houston Texan has 67 receptions for 861 yards and four scores. Metcalf and Hopkins key an all-star assortment of receiving talent on display Thursday that includes the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk and the Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett.
Is another classic to be had?
Anything can and seemingly does happen on a weekly basis in the craziness that is the NFL, so perhaps a blowout win is to be had by the Cards or ‘Hawks. The numbers say different, though, as each of them have engaged in game-of-the-year candidates and are amid seasons that have been thrill rides. Coming off a 32-30 win over the Bills thanks to the play deemed the “Hail Murray,” Arizona’s last three games have been decided by three points or less. That string began with the Cardinals’ incredible 37-34 overtime win against the Seahawks. Thus far, the Cardinals have had five games decided by four points or less and have gone 3-2 in them. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have battled through six games decided by one possession, beginning with a dramatic 35-30 Sunday night win over the Patriots in Week 2 and going through Sunday’s 23-16 defeat to the Rams. These are two teams in a three-way tie atop the NFC West who went to overtime the first time they clashed and have been in nailbiting classics on a weekly basis. This has all the makings of another close one – and hopefully another great one.