The Seattle Seahawks will continue their push for the top spot in the NFC playoffs as they play host to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16. Current betting odds have the Seahawks favored by 9.5 points at home with an over/under of 50 points.
Arizona might be locked into a last-place finish in the NFC West, but the Cardinals are still playing hard for first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury. Even on the heels of six straight losses, the Cardinals showed up for their home finale last week and beat the Browns 38-24. It may have been a meaningless game for Arizona, but it does create a little bit of optimism for the future.
As for the Seahawks, they were able to put a lackluster effort against the Rams two weeks ago completely behind them, winning at Carolina last week 30-24. Seattle has now won six of its last seven games, making it one of four 11-3 teams in the NFC coming into this week.
Next week’s showdown with San Francisco will decide the division, but a win over the Cardinals will keep the Seahawks in the running for the top seed in the NFC Playoffs.
Get It Moving
The Arizona offense hasn’t become the high-scoring force Kingsbury imagined when he took the job, but the Cardinals have had their moments. If nothing else, Kyler Murray’s athleticism and raw talent give him the chance to strike at any moment, even if he’s not been able to be consistent in his rookie season.
Of course, the difference in last week’s win over the Browns was the running game. Kenyan Drake ran for 137 yards, finding the end zone four times, pacing the offense, and making it easier for Murray to have one of his better games of the season.
It’s not out of the question that the Cardinals can replicate that kind of performance this week. Seattle’s defense is no longer among the elite in the NFL. It has given up at least 24 points in five of its last six games, in part because it has had some trouble against the run. If Drake gets going the way he did last week, it should take some of the heat off Murray.
Right Back At You
Of course, the Seattle running game has been one of the best in the NFL all season and is a big reason why the Seahawks are 11-3. Chris Carson is nearly at 1,200 rushing yards on the season with two games left to play. More importantly, Carson shredded the Cardinals for over 100 rushing yards when these teams met earlier in the season, and the Arizona defense hasn’t exactly improved against the run since then.
There’s also the small matter of Russell Wilson, who continues to be one of the top MVP candidates. He had an off day against the Rams two weeks ago, but to no one’s surprise, he bounced back in a big way against Carolina last week.
Arizona’s only hope might be Chandler Jones and its pass rush putting pressure on Wilson, who has taken 42 sacks in 14 games, exposing one of the few weaknesses of the Seattle offense.
A Little Closer
The Seahawks beat the Cardinals by 17 points back in Week 4, but that doesn’t guarantee a similar result this week. The Cardinals didn’t have Drake back then, while Murray is also a more experienced player.
Plus, that was Seattle’s only win of the season that wasn’t a one-score game. Look for Arizona to keep this game a little closer. Bet on the Cardinals to beat the 9.5-point spread in a losing effort.