The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals will meet at State Farm Stadium to wrap up the regular season for both teams. There is plenty of motivation for both teams this week, as the Seahawks (6-10) look to end their season on a positive note while Arizona (11-5) hopes to head into the playoffs on a two-game winning streak. The Cardinals also beat their NFC West rivals earlier this season, winning 23-13 on the road back in Week 11.
Seattle finished the home portion of its schedule last week in grand fashion. The Seahawks crushed the Detroit Lions 51-29 for their sixth win of the 2021 season. Rashaad Penny continued his late-season surge by rushing for 175 yards on 17 carries. Russell Wilson completed an efficient 20 of 29 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns. DK Metcalf had a career day with three touchdown receptions as the recipient of nine targets from Wilson. The defense was opportunistic and Lions quarterback Tim Boyle into throwing three interceptions. D.J. Reed picked off two of those three passes and added eight tackles. Jordyn Brooks continues to energy as a quality first-round draft pick by the Seahawks. Brooks led the team in tackles on Sunday with nine as Brooks and Cody Barton stepped up nicely in Bobby Wagner's absence after left the game with a sprained knee in the first quarter.
Arizona righted the ship last week down in Arlington as it outlasted the Dallas Cowboys 25-22. Kyler Murray completed 26 of 38 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Christian Kirk and A. J. Green combined for nine receptions and 153 receiving yards to help Murray out. The defense did what it had to do to slow down the high-octane Cowboys offense. First, it limited Dallas to 45 rushing yards, which is a byproduct of winning the battle of the line of scrimmage. Second, Dak Prescott wasn't great throwing the football, as he was limited to 5.9 yards per attempt and 226 total passing yards. Time of possession was also a factor in the win as the Cardinals held the football for just over 34 minutes. Overall, it was a cleaner game by Arizona against a team it could very well see in the playoffs.
Seattle (6-10) at Arizona (11-5)
Kickoff: Sun, Jan. 9 at 4:25 pm ET
Spread: Cardinals -6.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Seattle offensive balance against an aggressive Arizona defense
Running the football has been a foundational component for Seattle going back to Chuck Knox in the early 80s with Curt Warner. If the Seahawks are to win this week, they must set the tone up front and run the football with Penny. The effectiveness of the running game will slow down the aggressive pass rush of the Cardinals and set up Wilson for success throwing the football. Additionally, Wilson needs to let it all hang out this week by running when the opportunity is there and taking his shots throwing the football. Tyler Lockett caught four passes for 115 yards in the first meeting back in November. Metcalf was kept in check in the first meeting with just four passes for 31 yards, and he was never was a threat to take the top of the Arizona defense. That must change this week, as Metcalf must receive a couple of deep ball targets within the first couple of series. Gerald Everett played well the last two weeks with a combined seven receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. Look for Everett to get at least five or more targets with plays over the middle to soften up the defense.
2. Will the Arizona offense build off the Dallas game?
Stacking another turnover-free performance on top of last week's effort down in Dallas is a great place to start for the Cardinals this week. They will also have the services of Murray for this battle against the Seahawks instead of Colt McCoy, who was effective against the Seattle defense. Murray will patiently spread the football around to Kirk, Green, and Zach Ertz to keep the Seahawks' defense on their heels. Ertz dominated the first meeting between these two teams with eight catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Ertz has fit in nicely since being his trade from Philadelphia earlier this season. You can expect at least a half dozen receptions this week by Ertz to take pressure off of Murray and the running game.
3. Can the Seahawks' defense end the season on a high note?
This week is a golden opportunity for Seattle to empty the tank and attack Murray from all angles. Rasheem Green has quietly collected 6.5 sacks, and Carlos Dunlap II should have plenty of opportunities to leave a final impression for the rest of the league by harassing Murray all day long. Brooks has 94 solo tackles and should blow past 100 solo tackles on the season. Expect Brooks to be all over the field making plays against Chase Edmonds and the rest of the Cardinals running backs. Safety Quandre Diggs is off to the Pro Bowl, and if and Reed can pick off another of passes this week, it will give them a heck of a chance to pull the upset. Another key to victory for the defense is getting off the field because they can't afford to be on the field 40-plus minutes this week and expect to win.
You can throw the records of these two teams out the window because it will be a dogfight. The Seahawks have guys playing for jobs, and they can't just take the field and mail it in. Arizona must empty the tank if it wants to have a shot at winning the division. The only thing that could derail this game from being a dogfight is if the Rams jump out to a big lead on the 49ers. If that happens, then you could see Arizona taking the foot off the gas pedal in the second half opening the door even more for Seattle. Wilson and the Seahawks' offense will do some nice things in this return matchup, but it won't be enough on Sunday. The Cardinals will win a one-score game and head into the playoffs with momentum.