Seattle Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals: Game Preview, Prediction

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The Arizona Cardinals (11-3) host the Seattle Seahawks (10-4) for a chance to win the NFC West title

Sunday Night Football.  NFC West title on the line.  First seed in the NFC playoffs on the line.  It doesn’t get much bigger than this in the regular season.  It’s almost as if NBC knew what they were doing when they and the NFL scheduled this one back in April.  The Cardinals can clinch the NFC West and a first-round bye with the number one seed in the NFC with a win.

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This is a re-match of week 12 in Seattle.  The Seahawks and Cardinals played a close defensive battle until the Seahawks pulled away late and won 19-3.  Quarterback Drew Stanton was largely ineffective and when he was he couldn’t get a receiver to hold the ball.  Receiver Jaron Brown dropped a sure touchdown pass on him in the second half that would have kept the game close.

The Cardinals defense sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson seven times.  There were another four or five times they could have sacked him but Wilson’s legs helped him out of those jams,  The defense grew tired.  Arizona could only muster the one field goal on offense.  Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed another.  Penalties hurt the Cardinals too and on big plays.  The Cardinals had a 30-yard pass play called back due to a Rob Housler hold.

What: Seattle Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium Glendale, AZ

When: 6:25 p.m.  (Arizona Time)

TV: NBC – channel 12 in Phoenix.  Al Michaels (play-by-play), Chris Collinsworth (color analyst), Michelle Tafoya (sideline reporter)

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.  Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Ron Wolfley (color analyst), Paul Calvisi (sideline reporter)

Keys to victory:

Cardinals offense vs. Seahawks defense:

This is the Ryan Lindley show this week, like it or not.  It could be worse but it certainly could be better.  Drew Stanton still has a chance to be active of this one but is listed as doubtful.  Even if he is active he won’t start.  Lindley took the practice reps this week.  Stanton only practiced in a limited fashion on one day this week.

The game plan has been kept largely to the vest by the Cardinals.  We do know that the Cardinals will try to run the ball again.  They’ve been very effective in the running game with Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor the last two weeks.  Williams rushed for 100 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs and 75 against the St. Louis Rams.  Taylor added 61-yards against the Rams.

In week 12 though, the Cardinals only managed 64 yards rushing total on 20 carries against the Seahawks.  Lindley will also be counted on to pass the ball at times.  I would not be surprised to see him air the ball out early to keep the Seahawks thinking on defense.  Lindley has some mobility but the Seahawks defensive line will get after it.  They did manage three sacks against Stanton last time.

There will also be a package put in place for rookie quarterback Logan Thomas.  Whether he gets into the game or not could depend on a couple of things.  Will he be active first of all if Stanton can back Lindley up.  My guess is yes.  Then the game situation will have to call for it.  We don’t know what the package of plays look like for Thomas but best guess is they will be red zone and goal line-type plays.

They can’t be afraid of throwing to receivers covered by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas but whoever is throwing the ball for the Cardinals Sunday night had better have done their homework on them.  Sherman has three interceptions and seven passes defensed this season.  Thomas has one interception but six passes defensed.  They are tough to beat.