The Seattle Seahawks are looking to stretch their playoff streak to six consecutive seasons, but defeating the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Sunday won’t solely do the trick. The Seahawks also need Atlanta to lose to Carolina in order to grab the NFC’s final wild-card berth.
Russell Wilson has passed for 3,762 yards and 32 touchdowns but has been shaky over the last two weeks with efforts of 142 and 93 yards. “I think we can be a little bit better and I think I can be a little bit sharper,” Wilson said at a press conference. “Other than that, we’ve been very successful throwing the ball all year. I don’t think it’s anything that we’re doing or anything like that, I think we just have to be a little bit sharper.” Arizona will miss the playoffs for the second straight season, and coach Bruce Arians is shooting down rumors that Sunday will be his final game with the team. “I’m getting a little tired of it, yeah,” Arians told reporters. “There will come a time and place when we decide what we are going to do. I guess Larry (Fitzgerald) has put up with this for like, eight years, so I guess I can put up with it for one.”
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Seahawks -9. O/U: 38.5
ABOUT THE CARDINALS (7-8): Fitzgerald signed a contract for next year but hasn’t yet committed to playing despite another standout campaign that includes 101 receptions for 1,101 yards. The 34-year-old is the fifth player in NFL history to record five straight 100-catch seasons, and his first against the Seahawks - provided he doesn’t get shut out - will stretch his streak to 211 games with a reception, which would tie Tony Gonzalez for the second-longest in league history. Pass rusher Chandler Jones, who has registered a league-leading 15 sacks, has recorded 5.5 and two forced fumbles in four career games against Seattle.
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (9-6): Wilson has been impressive in the fourth quarter with a league-best 18 touchdown passes, and he also has terrorized the Cardinals with nine TDs and zero interceptions over the last four meetings. The lack of a running game - Wilson’s 550 yards are nearly three times as many as any running back on the active roster - has helped drag down the passing attack, and Seattle ranks 16th in total offense at 332.7 yards per game. Pass rushers Frank Clark (nine sacks) and Michael Bennett (8.5) are having big seasons for a defensive unit that hopes to have middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (team-best 130 tackles) closer to full strength from his hamstring injury.
1. The Cardinals are 3-1 in Seattle during Arians’ tenure.
2. Seattle TE Jimmy Graham has recorded 10 touchdown receptions, including two in a 22-16 road win over the Cardinals on Nov. 9.
3. Arizona S Antoine Bethea (pectoral) was placed on injured reserve, ending a season in which he made a career-best five interceptions.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 19, Cardinals 13