There’s plenty on the line tonight when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals on NBC. Not only is the NFC West Division title hanging in the balance, but the top seed in the conference could be as well.
The Cardinals (11-3) secured a playoff berth in their touchdown-free win against St. Louis. It is the first postseason trip for Arizona since 2009, Kurt Warner's last season. And they could use Warner now, as they will go into Sunday's game with third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley under center after injuries to starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton.
The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks (10-4) won the first meeting between these teams this season 19-3, a game that kick-started their current four-game winning streak. Arizona is 7-0 at home this season, while Seattle is 4-3 on the road.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinalss
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Seattle -9
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Seattle’s Key to Victory: Lower the Boom
The Legion of Boom defense is peaking at just the right time. Seattle has held its last four opponents to 27 total points and an average of 188.0 yards per game. In eliminating San Francisco this past Sunday, Seattle sacked Colin Kaepernick six times and allowed only 141 passing yards. They wouldn’t admit it, but the Seahawks’ defenders have to be licking their chops for a shot at Cardinals third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley. The Seattle pass rush has produced 16 sacks in the last four games, and the Seahawks will look to punish Lindley with frequency. “That is a real good part of our game right now,” coach Pete Carroll said of the pass rush. “We're going to try and keep pushing it. I always think it starts up front with the guys rushing the passer, but we certainly feed off one another and it will certainly be important down the stretch.”
[inline_team_schedule team-id=31 date=20141106 sport=nfl upcoming=1 limit=8][/inline_team_schedule]
Arizona’s Key to Victory: A First-string Performance from its Third-string Quarterback
We’re tempted here to say that the Cards’ key to victory is to force Kurt Warner out of retirement, but we’ll resist. Instead, we’ll merely say that Ryan Lindley, the Cards’ third-string quarterback, must do his best Warner impersonation and make enough plays in the passing game to keep the Legion of Boom from pinning its ears back and attacking. Lindley, who was signed off the Chargers’ practice squad a few weeks ago, feels like he’s come a long way since his 2012 start against the Seahawks — a 58–0 loss in which he completed eight passes for 59 yards. For Lindley’s sake, one would hope so. “It’s night and day,” he said. “The amount I've learned and not only grown as a person in two years, but from these guys — B.A. (Bruce Arians), from Carson (Palmer), from Drew (Stanton). I'm a totally different person and totally different player from that point.”
Arizona should be able to play loose and relaxed, given that the Cardinals have clinched their first playoff appearance since 2009. But to have any shot at playing a home game on Super Sunday — the Super Bowl is at University of Phoenix Stadium — they need home-field advantage in the playoffs, meaning they need to win this game. When you’re on your third quarterback and facing the NFL’s most dominant defense, that’s too much to ask.