The Arizona Cardinals (11-3) are tied for the NFL’s best record, but they could see their hopes of winning the NFC West take a major hit in Week 16. They’ll host the Seattle Seahawks (10-4) on “Sunday Night Football” in what could prove to be an uphill battle.
Arizona is down to their third starting quarterback, after Drew Stanton suffered a sprained MCL and a partially torn ACL in a Week 15 win over the St. Louis Rams. With the team forced to start Ryan Lindley, the Cardinals are 7.5-point home underdogs at Las Vegas casinos.
The third-year quarterback from San Diego State has very little NFL experience, and when he has gotten playing time, it hasn’t been memorable. In six games in 2012, Lindley completed 52 percent of his 171 pass attempts for 752 yards, no touchdowns and seven interceptions. When he replaced an injured Stanton last week, he wasn’t much better, going 4-of-10 for 30 yards and a 47.9 passer rating.
Lindley will get the start over rookie Logan Thomas, who’s completed just one of his eight pass attempts in 2014. Head coach Bruce Arians told reporters that Thomas could see some playing time, as well.
With one of the league’s best defenses, the Cardinals have been able to thrive this season, despite losing Carson Palmer for the year. However, losing Stanton, who will miss approximately four weeks, could prove to be too much for the team to withstand.
Stanton held his own as a starter, leading Arizona to a 5-3 record, but the offense struggled to find the end zone. Since Palmer went down for good in Week 10, the Cardinals have not scored more than 18 points in a game. After struggling against good and bad defenses alike, Arizona might have an extremely tough time moving the ball against Seattle. The over/under of 37 points is the lowest on the Week 16 schedule.
The Seahawks have won four games in a row, led a by a defense that looks more than prepared to defend their Super Bowl title. Seattle has allowed 27 total points in the last four games, including a 19-3 victory over Arizona in Week 12. They even went on the road and held Philadelphia to 14 points, and the Eagles haven’t scored fewer than 20 points in any other game this year.
The Cardinals will need to establish some sort of running game if Lindley doesn’t play surprisingly well. Arizona ran for over 140 yards in each of their last two games, but they totaled just 64 rushing yards in their one game against Seattle.
Even though they might have a difficult time scoring, Arizona’s defense has a chance to keep them in the game. They rank third in scoring defense, allowing 17.4 points per game, and Seattle doesn’t have an elite offense. The Seahawks haven’t scored more than 24 points in any of their last five games.
The Seahawks are often described as the NFL’s best home team, but the Cardinals are in the conversation. Arizona is one of four teams that are undefeated at home in 2014, and Seattle is just 4-3 on the road.
A win for Arizona would give them a division title and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. They have already clinched a postseason berth, and Seattle would get in the playoffs with a victory. If the Seahawks win, they can still lose the division with a loss to the Rams in Week 17.
Prediction: Seattle over Arizona, 17-10