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Date: Sunday, December 22, 2019
Time: 4:25 PM ET
Location: CenturyLink Stadium (Seattle, WA)
Arizona Cardinals Analysis
The Cardinals are coming off a 38-24 victory against the Browns. With only 4 wins on the year, the odds are stacked against them for this matchup. Perhaps the highlight of their season was receiving Kenyan Drake in a trade from the Miami Dolphins. He has given this team a great boost in the short time he has been a Cardinal. One important statistic for the Cardinals this year is that four of their losses were by 6 points or less, excluding the tie. If the offense gets a rhythm going early, expect them to be competitive from start to finish.
Arizona Cardinals Depth Chart
Seattle Seahawks Analysis
The Seahawks currently sit at 11-3, with high playoff stakes on the line. Their lone 3 losses this year are against the Ravens, Saints, and Rams, all extremely talented teams. As a result, do not expect them to play down to a team like the Cardinals. Pete Carrol is known for making sure his teams do not play down to their competition or squander games they should win. Their ability to win close games has also been a proven commodity. 9 of their 11 wins this year have been decided by 7 points or less. With an MVP-level quarterback and solid team across the board, the Seahawks are certainly a title contender.
Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart
The Seahawks have one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the game. Russel Wilson likes to mix it up, posing a threat for deep shots down the field as well as the short passing game. He is a given to go for 200+ passing yards and has only 5 INTs on the year. If the offense is able to control time of possession like usual, their passing game will be formidable.
Kyler Murray has had an up and down season for the Cardinals in his rookie campaign. Ironically, he is the 7th ranked QB for fantasy this year. He has thrown 10 INTs this year, respectable for a rookie without an excess of proven offensive players on his team. Given the receiving core he is working with, a mediocre game should be expected from him.
The lead RB for the Seahawks, Chris Carson, is very reliable. He has 6 games of 100+ yards on the ground. With 133 yds and 2 TDs last week against the Panthers, look for him to keep that going. Rashad Penny, their #2, is done for the year with a torn ACL, so Chris Carson will have most usage on the ground. The Cardinals have given up the 8th most yards to rushers this year, so Carson may be in for a big game.
The Cardinals acquired running back Kenyan Drake from the Dolphins prior to Week 9, and that has ultimately pushed David Johnson into a backup role. Given Johnson’s success for the Cardinals in the past few years, it may be surprising that he is not getting many carries. Regardless, Drake has the hot hand and is coming off a 4 TD performance against the Browns. That was against a below average, Myles Garrett-less Browns defense, so let’s see if he can continue that momentum this week. Seattle’s run defense is middle of the pack, so Drake has the chance to get going if the Cardinals mix up their play calling early. Kyler Murray is also a threat scrambling out of the pocket, so expect him to have a few solid runs throughout the game.
Tyler Lockett has been a very consistent receiver over the course of the season. He was actually in a huge slump until last week against the Panthers, going 8 rec for 120yds and a TD. The presence of Lockett along with huge red zone threat, DK Metcalf, make Russell Wilson have faith in the ability of his receivers. The news and suspension of Josh Gordon could have took this group to another level, but Lockett and Metcalf will be reliable regardless.
The Arizona receiving core is not special by any means. Larry Fitzgerald is obviously towards the end of his career. Despite carrying the receiving core early in the season (two 100yd games to start season), Christian Kirk has proven to be the only reliable threat. Kirk has also been struggling with injuries and is currently listed as questionable. The Seahawks are somewhat middle of the pack for passing defense. Look for Kirk to be one of the two main receiving threats if he is able to play. If not, one guy to keep an eye on is WR Damiere Byrd, who finished with 86 rec yards last week.
The Seahawks have slightly over a 75% chance to win this game according to most NFL models. It could very easily be a close game, but with the Seahawks at home, rookie QB Kyler Murray will not stick with MVP candidate Russel Wilson. There is no reason to believe the Cardinals will win this game given the playoff seeding stakes for Seattle.