When the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals met over the past few seasons, it was generally an exercise in which quarterback would play less-bad than the other. Now, the Cardinals don't have their situation figured out with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, but Russell Wilson has led Seattle to three wins over their last four games.
In other words, the teams are going in opposite directions with the quarterback position. More than that, they're going in opposite directions with their record, as Seattle is sitting at 7-5, in the hunt for the NFC West lead, while the Cardinals have dropped eight-straight games after starting the season 4-0.
One of their four wins was against the Seahawks in Week 1, but it was a sloppy game all around, and this time it will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, one of the harder stadiums to play at in the NFL. All eyes will be on the quarterbacks in this one, but for very different reasons.
Meet the Seahawks
Wilson has thrown nine touchdowns and no interceptions over his last four games. He had 293 passing yards and two touchdowns in last week's overtime victory over the Chicago Bears. Wilson also had 71 yards on nine carries in the game, and orchestrated drives of 97 yards and 80 yards, with the latter being in overtime.
He essentially came back to win that game twice. With the San Francisco 49ers faltering against teams like the St. Louis Rams amid some wild quarterback controversy, the Seahawks represent a legitimate threat to contend for the playoffs by way of winning the NFC West.
Boasting a 122.0 passer rating and a 5-0 mark at home, Wilson is ready to take on the Arizona defense, which already has some players missing due to injury and could be affected by reduced playing time for Darnell Dockett.
Meet the Cardinals
Arizona is averaging just 11.9 points per game since Week 5 and are losers in all eight of their last games. They're essentially out of the playoff race, and all fingers point to the instability at quarterback. They had just 22 yards of offense in the second half against the New York Jets in Week 13.
Ryan Lindley was the starting quarterback in that game, but he passed for just 72 yards with an interception, and Ken Whisenhunt is going back to John Skelton with Kevin Kolb likely to miss his seventh-straight game due to a rib injury. Skelton has an NFL-worst 64.4 passer rating this season, and the Cardinals haven't lost nine-straight games since 1943, when the team was located in Chicago.
Local Takes: Seahawks
Over at Field Gulls, they take a look at some aspects of the game, namely the matchup difficulties presented by Larry Fitzgerald:
Arizona isn't good at QB with Kolb or Skelton, but the Cardinals are a bit less helpless than they were last week. Even semi-competent QB play allows Arizona to exploit some matchup advantages. I'd be shocked if they didn't take a page out of Chicago's book and mostly throw against our base defense, running just enough to keep it honest. Chicago saw success (at least in raw yardage terms) moving Brandon Marshall around to find favorable matchups. I imagine the Cards will do the same with Larry Fitzgerald.
Local Takes: Cardinals
Over at Revenge of the Birds, they take note of the possibility of Darnell Dockett seeing reduced playing time, which would hurt given the fact that Arizona already is dealing with some injuries:
On top of the fine, rumor has it that Dockett will see a reduced role this Sunday against the Seahawks. He apparently will not start and his playing time will be cut drastically. We will see if the coaching staff follows through with that given the amount of injuries already along the defensive line.
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From Andrew Sharp's Week 14 picks, it's very clear he's going with the Seahawks in this one:
It's actually great that Wilson struggled early in the year, because for a second there it looked like he was going to be engulfed by the "HE'S AN UNDERDOG WHO JUST WINS" stories that would have slowly driven us all insane. Now? He's quietly playing great, the Seahawks are lurking as a potential killer in the NFC, and because he's been upstaged by bigger names, he actually is the underdog who just keeps winning, only now we can enjoy it all without being waterboarded with stories about Russell Wilson's intangibles. This is awesome, and so are the Seahawks.
The Seahawks opened as 10-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and can be had for a couple points more than that on some sites. The over/under is set for right around 35 points.