JIM MOORE

Seahawks-Cardinals preview: Jim Moore is done underestimating Hawks

Dec 27, 2018, 11:41 AM
The Seahawks' run game shouldn't have much trouble Sunday against Arizona. (AP)...
The Seahawks' run game shouldn't have much trouble Sunday against Arizona. (AP)
(AP)

I write these Seahawks prediction posts every week, and I’m kind of glad that I haven’t kept track of the season record because it can’t be good. I’ve underestimated this team all year, but that’s finally changed. I thought they’d lose to the Chiefs 38-20 yet they were the ones scoring 38 points in a resounding win at Century Link Field.

Seahawks’ Ifedi, Thompson both return to practice

The Seahawks are playoff bound, and I like their chances to do some significant damage in the postseason. I think they could be the 11th wild-card team to make it to the Super Bowl since the wild-card format was adopted in 1970. Six of those 10 teams won the Super Bowl, and three of those happened in the last 13 years, so it’s not like it’s completely out of the question that Seattle could do it this year.

Green Bay was the last wild-card team to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2010, going 10-6, the same record the Seahawks will have after they beat Arizona on Sunday. It will take three road wins to get to the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks are equipped to win on the road with Russell Wilson, a bruising running game and an improving defense.

Plus they’re probably not going to beat themselves. If they don’t turn it over this week, they will tie an NFL record with only 10 turnovers for a season. They committed five turnovers in their first two games and only five in the last 13. They’re crazy good in turnover differential, leading the league at plus-14.

I’ve stopped being skeptical about this team. If they can beat that Kansas City team with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, they can beat anyone anywhere anytime. As much as I’d never trade Russell Wilson, I wouldn’t trade the coaching staff for any other team’s either.

The Seahawks enter this Sunday’s game against the Cardinals not really needing to win, just sort of needing to win. If they lose and Minnesota beats Chicago, the Vikings would be the No. 5 team in the NFC and the Seahawks would drop to No. 6 and a first-round game at Chicago. But most 12s feel like a first-round matchup at climate-controlled Dallas would be preferable over one at frosty Soldier Field.

Plus let’s face it, record-wise anyway the Bears are a tougher matchup than the Cowboys, and Chicago beat Seattle in the second week of the season. The Seahawks have already shown they can handle the Cowboys, winning 24-13 in the third week of the season. Yet it’s important to note that the Cowboys are much improved since September, adding Amari Cooper to their offense in a trade with the Raiders.

Even if they’re not fully fired up and even if Pete Carroll chooses to rest some of his banged-up players in the second half, the Seahawks should still have enough in the tank to beat the Cardinals. I’d contend that the 3-12 Cardinals would be better off losing anyway to secure the first pick in the 2019 draft. Should they somehow win as 13 1/2-point underdogs, they would be tied with other 4-12 teams and possibly lose the shot at the first pick.

I can’t see how they will somehow win, though. Arizona has the worst offense and defense in the league. They’re equally bad wherever you look. They can’t score, averaging a league-low 13.9 points a game and averaging just 8.7 points the last three games. They also are last in rushing yards allowed per game at 153 while the Seahawks are tops in rushing at 158.5 a game.

The only few things I can think of that the Cardinals have going for them, in no particular order: Arizona has won the last three meetings in Seattle; Chandler Jones, who has 12 sacks, could be disruptive to the Seahawks’ passing offense; future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald is still a weapon; and here’s a reach for you – if Mike Glennon starts or replaces Josh Rosen at some point in the game, he was the guy who led Tampa Bay to a 21-0 first-half lead over the Seahawks several years ago (though the Bucs went on to lose that game in overtime). Rosen has been brutal more often than effective, completing just 55 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Steve Wilks is a first-year coach who’s suddenly a lame-duck coach, expected to be fired on Monday. Lame-duck coaches rarely beat coaches like Carroll, particularly in road games. The Seahawks should win by at least three touchdowns and head into the playoffs with 10 wins in their last 14 games. Seahawks 34, Cardinals 9.

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