Coming into Week 16, the Arizona Cardinals were the only team in the NFC to have clinched a playoff spot. That doesn't make their game this Sunday any less important, though. In fact, when they face off against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football, it will arguably be the biggest game of the season for both teams.
At 11-3, the Cardinals are leading the NFC West, but Seattle is nipping at their heels at 10-4. Playing like the defending Super Bowl champions that they are, the Seahawks have been unstoppable lately, holding opponents to 6.8 points per game in the last month. They've won seven of their last eight, and are riding a four-game winning streak that began, coincidentally enough, with a 19-3 victory over Arizona in Week 12.
Even though they've secured their first playoff berth since 2009, the Cardinals have been hit with a stroke of bad luck, at least at the quarterback position. Starting quarterback Carson Palmer was lost for the season when he tore his ACL in a win against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10. Palmer's injury put Drew Stanton in the driver's seat, and he went 3-2 in five starts since, but was knocked out last Thursday, also against the Rams. Stanton suffered a partially torn ACL and sprained MCL and is likely out for the rest of the regular season, if not longer. He was replaced by Ryan Lindley, who finished the night 4-of-10 passing for 30 yards in a low-scoring 12-6 win.
Lindley will get the start this week against the league's best defense with the NFC West crown on the line. That's a daunting enough task for a little-used backup, but the silver lining for him and the Cardinals is that the game will take place in Arizona and not at the intimidating CenturyLink Field.
How to Watch
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Announcers: Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels
Seattle is favored by 8 points over Arizona, with an over/under of 36.5 points, according to OddsShark.