Sunday Night NFL Picks: Seahawks-Cardinals Odds Report

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 7:17 PM GMT

The NFC West division title could be decided Sunday night when the Seattle Seahawks visit the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona’s in first place right now, but the NFL odds say Seattle will take the lead.

Jason’s record after Week 15: 36-50-1 ATS, 18-26-1 Totals

Welcome to your nightmare, Arizona Cardinals supporters. This has been a great year so far for the Cardinals (11-3 SU, 10-4 ATS); they’ve already clinched at least a playoff spot for the first time in five years. But Arizona has been clinging to life without Carson Palmer (95.6 passer rating) in the lineup. Now Drew Stanton (78.7 passer rating) is expected to miss four weeks with a sprained knee. Next up: Ryan Lindley. Yes, that Ryan Lindley.

This could end up costing Arizona the division title, the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks (10-4 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) are coming to the desert Sunday night, riding an impressive four-game winning streak at 3-0-1 ATS, and the NFL odds opened with Seattle laying 7.5 points (–105). Our early consensus reports show around 60 percent support for the Seahawks, pushing the spread to –8 and beyond.

 

Ryan X-14
It’s time to reacquaint ourselves with Mr. Lindley. Let’s travel back in time to the year 2012, when the Cardinals were burning through quarterbacks at an alarming rate. That was the year Arizona started off with four straight wins at 3-1 ATS, mostly with Kevin Kolb (86.1 passer rating) at quarterback. But when a rib injury knocked Kolb out of commission, the starting gig went to John Skelton (55.4 passer rating), who was awful.

But not as awful as Lindley (46.7 passer rating). He failed to throw a single TD pass in four starts, but he did throw seven picks on the season while compiling a 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS record. According to the DVOA stats at Football Outsiders, the sixth-round rookie out of San Diego State was the worst starting quarterback of 2012. His minus-55.8 percent passing DVOA was far worse than any quarterback from 2014 who’s thrown at least 100 passes thus far.

Best Betting Approaches for Seahawks vs. Cardinals Matchup

Under New Management
Things are a little different now in Arizona. Head coach Bruce Arians took over after the Cardinals went 5-11 (7-8-1 ATS) and cost Ken Whisenhunt his job. Arians has to be considered an upgrade under the headset. But the team around the quarterback is pretty much the samein terms of quality. Here are some key efficiency stats to ponder:

Arizona 2012: No. 6 defense, No. 31 rushing offense, No. 11 special teams
Arizona 2014: No. 6 defense, No. 32 rushing offense, No. 23 special teams

That strong defense is a big part of the reason why Lindley was able to go 2-2 ATS in 2012. It’s also why the Cardinals went 10-4 SU and 11-5 ATS last year after picking up Palmer from the Oakland Raiders. People made fun of the trade at the time, but Palmer (83.9 passer rating) proved competent enough to steer the Cardinals within a game of the postseason. He was doing even better this year before tearing up his knee in Week 10.

 

Dead Zone Channel
Without Palmer, the Cardinals have still managed to go 5-3 SU and ATS this year with Stanton at quarterback, and 3-2 SU and ATS since Palmer went on injured reserve. But the Cardinals didn’t score more than 18 points in any of those five games. That includes their 19-3 loss to the Seahawks (–7.5 at home) in Week 12. Arizona’s defense was able to hold Seattle to one touchdown in five red-zone visits, but on the other side of the ball, the Cardinals only managed 204 total yards and the lone figgie.

That’s the Seahawks for you. With most of their key players back and healthy, they’ve jumped ahead of Arizona at No. 4 on the defensive DVOA charts. This is what Lindley gets to face Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC). We’ll take that into consideration when we return with our NFL picks against the spread and total.

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