Seattle Seahawks (10-4 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Sunday, December 21, 2014, 8:30 pm EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Sea -3.5/Ari. +3.5
Over/Under Total: 37
Back in October when the Seattle Seahawks were struggling and fighting to stay at the front of the NFC wild card pack, little did anyone outside of the shadow of the Space Needle guess that in week 16 they would be playing for a chance at the NFC West title, but thats exactly what is up for grabs when they travel to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale to take on the dinged-up and dropping like flies Arizona Cardinals on this weeks Sunday Night Football in America on NBC.
The Seahawks have gone on a run that has seen them win four in a row and seven of their last eight to climb back into the conversation as the team to beat in the NFC as the playoffs draw near. Last weekend they disposed of the rival San Francisco 49ers for the second time this season, 17-7, and with their sights set of the NFC West crown they travel to the desert to try and get back what they want more than a second consecutive NFC West title homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Theyll face a Cardinals team that is starting to look like a MASH unit along the frontlines, as they lost their second quarterback and are down to third string and practice player call ups in the backfield and at multiple positions these days. To their credit and coach Bruce Arians credit (if he doesnt get coach of the year its a farce), they are still winning, including last week when they guaranteed themselves a spot in the NFC playoffs with a, 12-6, win over the St. Louis Rams on the road. Frankly, I dont know how the Cardinals continue to do it, but now theyll have to finish the season with Ryan Lindley at quarterback against the fearless Seahawks defense. This one could get ugly.
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas tend to agree with me, as they set the opening point spread for the Sunday night affair with Seattle as 7.5-point favorites on the road. Of course, the betting public is breaking their legs jumping off the Cardinals bandwagon now, if they hadnt already, as the current number can be found as high as Seahawks minus -9 at some sportsbooks, with a majority of them sitting at minus -8 right now at mid-week.
The over/under total opened at 43 late on Sunday as has crashed like a rock all the way down to its current total of 36 or 36.5 at a large majority of books both in Vegas and offshore.
With Lindley taking over at QB, now even more pressure is going to be put on the Cardinals defense to completely carry the entire load for this team. Lindley was 4-for-10 for 30 yards when he was called upon last week after Drew Stanton got hurt, and theres talk out of Arizona that they may have a package for rookie quarterback Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) to take advantage of his mobility on Sunday, but go ask Cleveland how those mobile rookie QBs work out in the NFL against these fast NFL defenses these days. The Seahawks defense is not going to give Arizona anything easily again, this one could just get plain ugly for Cardinals fans.
Seattle with Marshawn Lynch boast the NFLs top running attack at 169 yards a game, but the strength of the Cardinals defense is still their defensive line and their run defense, so theyll likely try and find a way to make Russell Wilson beat them by throwing it. Four weeks ago when the Seahawks beat the Cards in their first meeting, 19-3, Arizona had 168 yards of total offense to Seattles 291, but Wilson was efficient (17-of-22) and took care of the football (one TD, no picks), so Id expect the Seattle offensive coaching staff to just print out the same game plan from four weeks ago to use again on Sunday.
Seattle certainly has not been a good wager on the road in Arizona over the years, going 2-6 ATS in their last eight visits to Glendale. Arizona is also 6-0 ATS at home in their last six, but those Cardinals teams look nothing like the one the Seahawks will be facing on Sunday, so its really apples to oranges on this one.
The over could be the play to make on Sunday, not just because its sitting at a ridiculously low 36 points, but also because historically the over is 9-1 in the last 10 head-to-head meetings between these two in games played in Arizona.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is the NFL and Arians is an offensive mastermind, Im not sure hes a miracle worker though. The Cards will get some points, and by some Im thinking 6 or maybe 9 on field goals maybe. Either way, 36 is just too low for me not to take a chance on the over. My hope is that Wilson and the Seahawks go over the total all on their own, or a late garbage TD puts it over in a backdoor style in the closing minutes. Either way, Im going to play the over of 36 for this one.