On Sunday Night Football, the Seattle Seahawks will be in Glendale, Ariz., to take on the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals.
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The matchup will be important in deciding the division — if Arizona wins, the NFC West is theirs. But, if the Seahawks win, they will move into a tie for the West lead and need to beat the Rams next week to clinch the division outright.
Seattle can also clinch a playoff spot with a win and some help from other teams.
With the Cardinals down to their third-string quarterback, Seattle’s defense should have the definite advantage in this matchup and that should prove to be the difference in this game.
Here are some other predictions for this week’s game:
1. Marshawn Lynch rushes for 60 yards.
Lynch was limited to 39 yards on the ground when these teams played in Seattle a few weeks ago and Arizona’s run defense allows only 90 rushing yards per game.
That combination means Lynch probably won’t have a huge game, but he could still be important in distracting the defense.
We’ve seen in the past that even when Lynch doesn’t have the ball, opponents tend to watch him, which usually allows Russell Wilson to either keep the ball and take off or throw the ball.
The outstanding Cardinals run defense means Wilson might be the key factor in beating the Cardinals and their defense.
2. Russell Wilson throws for 220 yards and a touchdown.
Because Lynch will be shut down for most of this game, Wilson will be forced to throw the ball more than usual.
He thew it 22 times (for 211 yards) the last time these teams played in Seattle, but he was sacked seven times.
Seattle’s offensive line needs to step up and help out their quarterback on Sunday so he can stand in the pocket and hit his receivers against a secondary that allows 259 yards per game, 29th in the NFL.
3. Jermaine Kearse leads Seahawks receivers with six catches, 75 yards.
Kearse had a nice game last week, catching five passes for 78 yards. He has been targeted more and more by Wilson because Doug Baldwin has started drawing more coverage from the defense.
Two weeks ago, Kearse was targeted seven times and he was targeted five times the week before that. I think he will be targeted seven or eight times on Sunday, leading the team.
4. Seahawks defense forces a pair of turnovers.
When these teams last played, Seattle forced an interception, but they will probably be able to force an additional turnover on Sunday.
Seattle’s defense has continued to be dominant and that means bad news for Ryan Lindley‘s offense.
5. Seahawks beat Cardinals, 17-10.
The Cardinals haven’t scored more than 18 points in the last five weeks, and the Seahawks defense hasn’t allowed more than 14 in the last four.
Arizona’s offense hasn’t been clicking and now they are going to be led by Lindley, a third-string, third-year quarterback who hasn’t started a game since 2012.
That’s bad news for Arizona but great news for the Seahawks defense who has been dominant this second half of the season.
Arizona’s defense has been playing better so I don’t expect the Seahawks to score a ton of points, but they will certainly score more than Arizona will.