The Arizona Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot in the NFC – but they haven't quite clinched the NFC West. Can we still call the Seattle Seahawks a value NFL pick?
Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 11: 46-45-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-31 Total
So it looks like the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks will represent the NFC West in this year's playoffs. Exactly as we predicted. Okay, maybe not exactly. Back in September, we figured Seattle was still good to win the division, despite concerns about the shape of their offensive line. Turns out those concerns were entirely valid. The Seahawks (7-5 SU, 5-6-1 ATS) stumbled out of the gate, allowing the Cardinals (11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS) to seize control of the NFC West.
But which team would you rather put in your NFL picks right now for Super Bowl 50? We've got much the same situation here as we do in the AFC West, where the second-place Kansas City Chiefs are making a big late-season push while the Denver Broncos sit pretty atop the division. Seattle has won five of its last six games at 4-2 ATS to move back into Super Bowl contention; you can get the Seahawks at around +850 on our NFL odds board, while Arizona is near the top of the list at +500.
The Transitive Property of Football
Let's start by talking about the Minnesota Vikings. Two weeks ago, they got their horns handed to them by the Seahawks, eating a 38-7 loss and dropping the cash as 2.5-point home dogs. That was testament to how well Seattle is playing of late, but also an indicator of how the Vikes have struggled this year on those rare occasions when they've played a quality team.
Thursday was another one of those occasions. Yet the Vikings (+10 away at the close) managed to stick with Arizona, rallying to tie the game 20-20 in the last five minutes before giving up the winning field goal – and then nearly coming back again. Minnesota coughed up three fumbles, lost them all, and still covered the spread. Aside from the strips, it was an unusually bad game from the Cardinals defense; the Vikings racked up 389 yards of offense, after gaining just 125 yards against Seattle.
Lucky Number One
The Cards clinched a playoff spot by beating Minnesota, so they've got that going for them. Meanwhile, Seattle is the hottest team in the league. That's according to the Weighted DVOA stats at Football Outsiders going into Week 14. The Seahawks are first, one spot ahead of Kansas City. The Cardinals are in fifth, and they might lose ground after Thursday's win.
Seattle needs to keep up the pace to ensure at least a Wild Card – the next three games are against losing teams, which helps immensely. Then it's the regular-season finale in Glendale. If Arizona slips up, that game could be for the division title, and perhaps a first-round bye. Better take your vitamins.