The 11-4 Arizona Cardinals host the 10-4 defending Superbowl champion Seattle Seahawks in a matchup of two of the top teams in the league on Sunday Night Football. The season did not get off to the start that the Seahawks expected, but as a team that lost several key pieces to free agency in the offseason they went through a brief adjustment period. After losing two games in a row during weeks 6 and 7 they have won 7 of their next 8 and are playing as well as any team in the NFL. The win combined with the Green Bay Packers losing means they still have a chance to gain home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Regardless as to where the games are held the road to the Superbowl will have to include defeating the defending champions. Last week they knocked the San Francisco 49ers out of playoff contention by showing the type of defense that they displayed last season. They held San Francisco to a lone second quarter touchdown in their 17-7 win. The defense completely shut down the 49ers offense and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. They held Kaepernick to only 141 passing yards while he completed 11/19 passes. The Seahawks offense was far from spectacular but they did enough to win the game. Quarterback Russell Wilson went 12/24 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Running back Marshawn Lynch had 21 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown, continuing his fantastic season. It appears as if the Seahawks are peaking at the right time.
While the Cardinals are certainly not peaking right now due to an incredible amount of injuries. They are in a position to get healthy going into the playoffs. Having already lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer to a knee injury earlier in the year they were already playing with an untested backup in Drew Stanton and then he injured his right knee early in last weeks 12-6 win over the Saint Louis Rams. Originally the 4th string quarterback, Ryan Lindley came on in place of Stanton and was unimpressive going 4/10 passing for 30 yards. The good news is that the injury to Stanton is not season ending and he was even a limited participant in practice this week. Look for the Cardinals to error on the side of caution and sit Stanton as they will need a him healthy come playoff time. The Cardinals didn’t get much from their passing game but their rushing attack showed some great promise as the combination of Kerwyn Williams and Stefan Taylor had 29 carries for 136 yards combined.
The Cardinals have clinched a playoff birth. A win over the Seahawks would give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs and that would include the Superbowl, which is in Arizona. Both teams have a lot to play for and whatever team wins will find themselves with an inside track to a Superbowl appearance via home field. Look for both teams to look to establish the run early and often as both have struggled in the passing game recently.
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