With Carson Palmer out for the season and Drew Stanton now hurt, the Cardinals are turning to Ryan Lindley Sunday, but against the Seahawks Arizona will be hard-pressed to score making the Under a pick here.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (Seahawks -8, 36, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Monday 01:30 (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT): The point spread and total almost look wrong for this Sunday Night Football game but they’re both right on and show that odds makers are still on top of things at this always strange point in the waning NFL regular season. The Seattle Seahawks (10-4 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) head to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale to play the Arizona Cardinals (11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS) here in an NFC West clash where the visitors from the Pacific Northwest can tie Arizona for the division lead with a win and a game in which the host Cardinals will be forced to start Ryan Lindley at QB after Carson Palmer fill-in Drew Stanton suffered a knee sprain in the team’s 12-6 win over the St. Louis Rams last Thursday night.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened this game at Seahawks -2½ this summer in its famous 2014 NFL Games of the Year odds and the world’s biggest sportsbook had it at (Seahawks) -6½ in its Advanced Line out last week. The SuperBook opened it up at 7½ on Monday and it was bet up to 8 by Monday, so you can see what the Palmer and Stanton injuries, the Seahawks record and current motivation and other things have done to what the perception of what a fair point spread should be for this contest which looked much more entertaining on the schedule before the season started. This one could end up being really boring and anyone who bet Seattle and laid the 2½ this summer looks like an absolute genius right about now. Ho ho ho.
With the Total Points now at 36 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), many bettors may be scared off by the low number, but with Seattle’s incredible defense going up against Lindley—who will be making only his 5th NFL start—and the Seahawks the type of team to grind out wins like they’re playing a baseball game, it’s hard to see the Cardinals getting over 13 points in this situation, making the Cardinals Team Total Points of 14 (Stan James) worth a look. The Seahawks Team Total Points is 23 while the Money Line on our NFL odds see the Seahawks priced at -400 with the host Cardinals lined at +280 (BetVictor). Some random prop bets to go with your holiday ham, Harold? Highest Scoring Half has both the 1st Half and the 2nd Half lined at -110 with the Draw (same total points in each half) at +200 (Ladbrokes); and, Winning Margin Seahawks 11-20 is priced at +300 (3/1, Paddy Power).
In Week 12 when these two met in Seattle, the Seahawks exacted some revenge from a their lone Home loss last season, easily beating Arizona, 19-3 as 7½-point Favorites.
Rumors of the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks demise were premature and all of a sudden it looks like Seattle could possibly win the NFC West and pop up like that freaky Xenomorph chest-buster thing in Alien and still snatch the beyond-valuable top seed and the homefield advantage in the NFC—thanks to the Packers loss at Buffalo on Sunday. And that’s pretty astounding considering that the Seahawks were sitting at 6-4 after Week 11 with rugged games against these Cardinals, the 49ers in Santa Clara, the Eagles in Philadelphia and then San Francisco again at Home in Seattle, all coming up in the next four weeks. In those four games, the Seahawks allowed a grand total of 27 points in wins by 16, 16, 10 and 10 points and got themselves and their fans feeling confident again, gained some momentum and created fear across the entire NFL and perfectly positioned themselves to make another run at a Super Bowl appearance and maybe another NFL championship. Who knows. So, a win here for Seattle is almost a foregone conclusion if logic has anything to do with it.
How Seattle is and has done this is clear when you look at some of their key Offensive rankings.The Seahawks (14-6 L20 Road) are the second-to-worst team in the league (31st) Passing (192.8 ypg), but account for that weakness by having the #1 Rushing attack (168.8), almost all thanks to bullworker RB Marshawn Lynch (256 rushes, 1,133 yards, 10 TDs, 4.4 ypc, 1 Fumble) and QB Russell Wilson (106 rushes, 754 yards 5 TDs, 7.1 ypc) who is basically offense in a bright green-silver-and-blue bottle. Few, if any players in the NFL are as valuable to their team as Wilson is to this Seahawks club.
Defensively, Seattle (7-1 SU L8) ranks #1 against the Pass (184.3 ypg) and #5 against the Rush (88.1 ypg), so with the Cardinals playing a third-string QB, an Arizona offensive TD might not happen with this Seahawks defensive unit now foaming at the mouth and playing like they did at this same time last season. Dominating.
The Seahawks (2-6 SU L8 at Arizona) do have some minor injury concerns on the OL early in the week (Monday) with T Russell Okung (lung), C Max Unger (ankle) and TE Cooper Helfet (ankle) all listed as Day-to-Day, but this team will definitely be ready for this game and head coach Pete Carroll (51-32-2 ATS) will definitely remind and then re-remind his team how important the win would be here and how good they could all collectively feel, late, late Sunday night-Monday morning on that flight back up to the Emerald City.
This is the biggest game of the Cardinals season, one in which Arizona could pretty much win the NFC West with a victory and get the inside lane for the top seed in the NFC. The good news? It’s at Home and you’re having your best season in years. The bad news? Well, you have to beat the defending Super Bowl champs and one of the toughest defenses in NFL history and you have to do so with a dude (Lindley) with just 4 completions for 30 yards this season and one you actually cut back in August. Bring out your dead. Arizona head coach Bruce Arians (20-9-1 ATS) has said that he will have a package of plays ready for now Lindley’s backup, rookie Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech), but with Stanton the Cardinals may have had a chance in this game, with Palmer (ACL) they definitely would have but with Lindley in there it’s sort of like having American cheese on your pizza instead of mozzarella. Almost bordering on The Blasphemous, brother.
Knowing that they’ll have trouble passing against the league’s top-ranked defense with a fresh, probably a little bit frightened QB like Lindley, Arizona (5-0 SU L5 Home) will likely turn to heavy doses of RBs Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor, as it did last week in its 12-6 win at St. Louis. (And that won’t end up working so effectively so they’ll have to pass.) The Cardinals leading rusher, RB Andre Ellington (206 rushes, 660 yards 3 TDs) was put on the Injured Reserve list last Monday with a hernia and with Palmer, Stanton (knee) and S Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) Out Indefinitely and DE Ed Stinson (toe) and G Paul Fanaika (ankle) listed as Day-to-Day, this team comes in really beat up at the worst possible time and few of the so-called Sharps are giving this team with QB problems any chance of even getting near Super Bowl XLIX, which will be played right here in this very stadium on February 1.
What Arizona (8-2 L10 SU) does have now is a nice balanced receiving corps with legend Larry Fitzgerald (57 receptions, 722 yards, 2 TDs, 12.7 ypc), Michael Floyd (37 receptions, 647 yards, 4 TDs, 17.5 ypc) and the blossoming John Brown (41 receptions, 591 yards, 5 TDs, 14.4 ypc), but, with Lindley being so green and the Seahawks DBs sort of like piranhas—or maybe Walmart shoppers when the doors crack open on those Black Friday Christmas sales after Thanksgiving—putting the ball in the air for Lindley will be a cautious thing.
Best Betting Approaches and Trends
Even though primetime TV Overs have been the thing this season, this one screams Under and a chess-like, low-scoring affair with Arizona trying to do everything possible to churn out precious first downs on offense, create some TOs on defense—the Cardinals are #2 in the NFL in Team Take-Aways (+12)—and hope it can win the special teams and field position battles. Playing the aforementioned Cardinals Total Team Points under the 14 (-110, Stan James) seems worth a small play, as does taking the Seahawks to (barely) cover the 8 in what should be like a maximum (scoring) 23-13 Seahawks win but will probably end up around 23-9 or 23-10 or something freaky-looking like the scores in Seattle’s last 4 wins (19-3, 19-3, 24-14, 17-7). We are on the Winter Solstice, afterall. But many of the trends don’t support the Seahawks here, although those numbers were hardened on the anvil of lessor Seattle teams and from Cardinals teams with actual starting QBs playing the actual games.
Arizona is an impressive 6-2 both ATS and SU in its L8 vs. the Seahawks here at Home in suburban Phoenix, but the stone-soup Seahawks are 6-3 both ATS and SU overall in the L9 against the Cardinals, including that aforementioned smothering in Week 12.
Even though the Over is 9-1 in the L10 in this series here in Glendale, many trends point to the taking a chance on the Under 36 as their NFL pick; including the Under being 4-1 in the L5 Cardinals game; 5-2 in the L7 Cardinals Home games; 4-1 in the L5 Seahawks games; and 4-2 in the L6 Seattle contests on the Road. But it will be Seattle’s defense, it’s desperate need for the win here and Arizona’s serious QB issues which make the Under appealing and the Seahawks should find a way to win by double-digits again on Sunday night in what could end up being a great or horrible game—all dependent on the Cardinals ability or inability to move the ball and actually score against this revitalized, scary-good Seattle team.
NFL Picks: Under 36.5 , Seahawks -8, at BookMaker. Cardinals Team Total Under 14 Points