Bruce Arians is a confident head coach who, when you listen to him speak, has complete faith in his Arizona Cardinals team and all associated with it.
The Las Vegas bookmakers apparently do not feel the same way.
The NFC West-leading Cardinals (11-3) are listed as 8-point home underdogs for their Sunday night game against the Seattle Seahawks (10-4). But those things tend to happen when you are down to your 3rd-string quarterback, as Arizona is.
Ryan Lindley, who was signed off the Chargers practice squad Nov. 11, will start for Drew Stanton, who was lost for the season after injuring his right knee is last week’s 12-6 win over the Rams. Lindley completed 4 of 10 passes for 30 yards in relief duty, his first action since 2012. Arizona had lost starter Carson Palmer for the season to a knee injury in the first meeting with St. Louis. Arians hinted rookie QB Logan Thomas could also be used in certain situations Sunday.
The Cardinals are already in the NFC playoffs, but can clinch home-field advantage throughout with a win over Seattle.
The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot with a win and take control of the division since they would own the tiebreaker with the Cardinals by virtue of the head-to-head victory over Arizona on Thanksgiving.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. Eastern
U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Seahawks (-8) – Line provided by bovada.lv
Seahawks 19, Cardinals 3, Nov. 23, 2014, Week 12, at Seattle
The Seahawks defense is locked in at the moment. They lead or rank near the top of the league in a few categories: total defense (272.4 yards per game, 1st), passing defense (184.3 ypg, 1st), scoring defense (17.3, 2nd) and rushing yards (88.1, 5th). Over their 4-game winning streak, the ‘Hawks have given up just 27 total points and have racked up 14 sacks.
A matchup against a 3rd-string quarterback with 10 pass attempts since 2012 is certainly to Seattle’s advantage.
Offensively, Russell Wilson has picked up his play. He’s thrown for 7 touchdowns without an interception and has added 254 and another score on the ground in the past 5 games.
Running back Marshawn Lynch appears to have gotten his legs back, averaging 93.7 yards on 21.3 carries in the past 3 games. Lynch was bottled up in the first meeting, totaling 39 yards on 15 totes a month ago.
Not only is Arizona down to its 3rd quarterback, but it is also without starting running back Andre Ellington, who was placed on injured reserve with a sports hernia earlier this month. The Cards have been getting good production from Kerrwyn Williams and Stepfan Taylor, but the sledding should be tough Sunday vs. the Seahawks.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is having his worst season as a pro. Some because he is slowing down and some because of the quarterback situation. He will have his work cut out for him against Richard Sherman and Co.
The bright spot for the team lately has been the defense. The Cardinals are just behind the Seahawks in points per game allowed at 17.4, including just 20 total in the past 2 games.
Bruce Arians should probably be the NFL Coach of the Year for the amazing job he’s done with his Cardinals squad. So many injuries and yet they are a win away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Unfortunately for Arizona, that win isn’t coming against the Seahawks. There is just too much to overcome: 3rd-string quarterback, starting running back lost and Seattle is steamrolling.
The good news is the Cardinals are in the playoffs. The bad news is the Seahawks are going to win and seize control of the NFC West.