I don’t want to say conclusively that the Seattle Seahawks are going to win the NFC West Division if they beat the Arizona Cardinals in the desert on Sunday Night Football this week, but, the Seahawks are all but locks to win the division if they do get a victory. That’s because it would give Seattle a three-game lead over the defending West champions. However, Arizona is a slight favourite on Sports Interaction’s NFL odds.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals
Point spread: Cardinals -2.5
Date: Sunday, Oct. 23, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale
The Seahawks (4-1) came out of their bye on Sunday and won a third game in a row in beating the high-flying Atlanta Falcons 26-24 in the Pacific Northwest. The Falcons had rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit to lead 24-17 entering the fourth. But Christine Michael‘s 1-yard TD run with 4:43 to go cut the deficit to a point, with Steven Hauschka’s extra-point try getting blocked. Hauschka redeemed himself on a 44-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining — that drive came after Earl Thomas picked off Matt Ryan.
Atlanta wasn’t able to get anywhere on its final drive, although a long Ryan to Julio Jones pass sure looked like defensive pass interference on Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. It was the 93rd consecutive game under Coach Pete Carroll in which the Seahawks either led or were within one score in the fourth quarter. But Sunday was the first time since 2013 that the Seahawks won after trailing by seven points or more in the fourth quarter.
Seattle held the NFL’s top offense to just 86 total yards in the first half before Ryan and Co. woke up in the third. Russell Wilson finished 25 of 37 for 270 yards for the Seahawks and Michael had 18 carries for 64 yards and two scores; top running back Thomas Rawls remains out due to injury. Seattle forced two turnovers and had none thanks to recovering three of its own fumbles.
Injury-wise, the Seahawks played the Falcons without Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor due to a groin injury and defensive end Frank Clark because of a hamstring problem. Fellow end Michael Bennett hurt his knee in the game but is expected to be fine.
The Seahawks are 1-6 against the spread in their past seven after a win.
The Cardinals (3-3) have been hard to figure this year with upset losses to the Bills and Rams but their three wins were all blowouts. That was the case Monday night at home vs. the Jets in a 28-3 victory. With all due respect to Cowboys rookie and league-leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott, the best all-around running back in the NFL right now is Arizona’s David Johnson. He rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns against New York while catching three passes for 27 yards.
Johnson joined Beanie Wells as the only Cardinals with three rushing touchdowns in multiple games since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988. Johnson leads the NFL with 833 yards from scrimmage and with eight touchdowns, more than anyone in franchise history through six games. And consider that guy was a 2015 third-round pick out of little Northern Iowa.
The Cardinals scored in the first quarter for the first time this season, didn’t turn the ball over at all, didn’t allow a sack, and had touchdown drives of 11, 14 and 14 plays. It was a complete effort. But the Jets also are terrible.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer left the win in the fourth quarter with a hamstring issue the team initially described as a strain but which Palmer said was due to cramping, so he should be fine for Sunday. Palmer completed 23 of 34 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. He had missed Week 6 with a concussion. Palmer won the Heisman Trophy as the quarterback for Carroll’s USC team in 2002.
The Cards are 1-4 ATS in their past five after a win.
Seahawks vs. Cardinals Prediction
These teams split last year. Seattle lost 39-2 at home in Week 10 as Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns. The Week 17 game in the desert meant nothing to either team as both were locked into their playoff seed. Seattle won 36-6 with Wilson throwing three TD passes. Palmer only played the first half. I worry about the short week for Arizona, but Seattle hasn’t looked great in its two road games thus far. Give the points as long as Palmer is fine. Go under the total as it has hit in eight straight Cardinals home games.