In my mind, there aren’t many scenarios in which Arizona wins, but Bruce Arians’ team has won the last three meetings in Seattle so I guess there’s precedence for it to happen again. If it does, it will be in a low-scoring game with Arizona’s sixth-ranked defense shutting down a sputtering Seahawks’ offense.
In the human-element category, the Cardinals might be motivated to win in what might be Arians’ last game as their head coach. I can picture a scene in which his team is hauling him off the field on their shoulders, fist-pumping his way to the locker room, sending him out in style.
But Arians kind of screwed that up by telling his players that CenturyLink is Arizona’s home field, encouraging them to go up there and kick some butt. He didn’t intend for that to be publicly distributed, but it was, and now it gives the Seahawks a human-element edge.
Maybe Arians’ comment won’t have anything to do with the outcome. But I’m thinking if I was a 25-year-old professional football player and I heard the opposing coach say that my home field was his home field, I’d take exception to that. In fact, I’d probably be so fired up that I’d want to beat his team badly, and I’d be in his face after the game, asking him whose home field it was again and demanding an answer and not accepting anything he said until he told me: “OK, OK, it’s YOUR home field!”
I’m probably making mountains out of molehills, and this one is probably Snoqualmie Pass compared to Everest, but still, I like the storyline enough to milk it for all its worth.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to understand why the Seahawks are favored by only nine points. They have the more-talented team and are playing with more incentive, hoping to reach the playoffs while the Cardinals are simply trying to finish at 8-8. There’s also a pretty big difference at quarterback, Russell Wilson vs. Drew Stanton, who has completed 51 percent on his passes this year and has five TDs to go with four interceptions. Like Seattle, Arizona doesn’t have a running game either, and the average margin in their five road losses has been 19 points.
They do have Larry Fitzgerald, who just might be the classiest player in the league. Showing no signs of slowing down, the 34-year-old receiver has 101 catches for 1,101 yards and six TDs this season. He will be the star of the game if Arizona wins.
I just don’t see that happening. Even though the Seahawks have not accumulated as much as 300 yards of offense in the last two games combined, I think they’ll have a big day on both sides of the ball against the Cardinals.
And it figures to be an unusual afternoon at Century Link Field. The Seahawks need a win over Arizona, and Carolina to beat Atlanta to earn a playoff berth. Even though both games will start at 1:25 p.m., one of them is bound to run longer than the other. In either case, how much fun would it be to see the Seahawks grind out the last two minutes after knowing that the Panthers had beaten the Falcons? Or after the Seahawks win, to have the scoreboard show the final two minutes of Carolina’s win over Atlanta while a sold-out Century Link Field crowd hangs around to celebrate?
I’m not so sure about the Carolina-Atlanta outcome, particularly since the Falcons are favored by four, but the Seahawks will easily hold up their end of it in Seattle.
Arizona (+8) at Seattle: Seahawks 24, Falcons 3