Seattle (9-6) at Arizona (13-2)
When: Sunday, January 3rd 2016
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Time: 4:25 ET | TV: CBS
The Seattle Seahawks will look for a little revenge heading into the playoffs when they visit the surging Arizona Cardinals. Seattle suffered a 39-32 home loss to Arizona back on November 15th, but bounded back to win their next five before falling to St. Louis last week. During that five-game stretch they averaged 34 points a game and QB Russell Wilson threw 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin set a franchise record with his 14th touchdown catch last week and now has 11 the past five weeks. The offense struggled last week without running back Thomas Rawls, who was a nice backup for Marshawn Lynch. Christine Michael and Bryce Brown were limited to a combined 15 yards on 13 carries. The Seahawks have already wrapped up a playoff spot and will play on the road next week on Wild Card Weekend. Despite the 23-17 setback to the Rams last week, the defense held St. Louis to just 207 total yards. Seattle ranks 2nd in the NFL in total defense and passing defense, while ranking 3rd in rushing defense and points allowed. CB Richard Sherman has seven interceptions in his past eight meetings versus Arizona and will look to slow down their potent offense.
Arizona comes in with nine straight victories and have already wrapped up at least the #2 seed and a first-round bye. A win today coupled with a Carolina loss to Tampa Bay, would give the Cardinals the top-seed and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Carson Palmer, who is 26-4 in his last 30 starts with Arizona, leads the NFL’s top-ranked scoring offense (32.2) and top-ranked total offense (420.1 yards a game). Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns in the first matchup versus Seattle and wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd both went over 100 yards receiving. Rookie running back David Johnson has emerged as a star and is averaging 149.8 yards from scrimmage with five touchdowns in his four starts. They also have a top 5 defense and it was on display last week against Green Bay. Arizona sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times and backup Scott Tolzien another time in the 38-8 romp over the Packers. Veteran Dwight Freeney had three of those sacks and Calais Campbell had 2.5.
I really like Seattle in this game. They’re coming off a loss after five impressive wins and they will be looking for revenge after losing at home to these Cardinals. Arizona probably won’t get the top-seed even with the win, so I’m not so sure about their motivation for this one. I’ll take the points and call for an upset win by Seattle.
Pick: Seahawks +6.5