While most of us are busy stumbling our way through National Hangover Day, the Seahawks will be in Phoenix to beat up the Cardinals. This game is almost a mirror match, although the Seahawks come out slightly ahead in the comparison:
Both teams lost most of their games in the first half of the season (2-6 for Seattle, 1-7 for Arizona), then turned things around and won most of their remaining games (5-2 for Seattle, 6-1 for Arizona).
Both offenses rely heavily on their run games, with the Seahawks being the superior team on the ground. When it comes to passing the ball, the Seahawks’ Tarvaris Jackson may not be the QB of the future but he’s good enough to keep the job until something better comes along, while the Cardinals are still trying to decide which horse they should back, Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. Skelton doesn’t look all that impressive under center, but he’s proven surprisingly good in the clutch, with four of his five victories as a starter coming on game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. Kolb, on the other hand, is injury-prone, overpriced, and prone to making back-breaking mistakes. Decisions, decisions.
The real strength of these teams are their defenses. You guys already know how great the Seahawks’ defenders have been this year, so I’ll just say they have the better defense and leave it at that. Arizona isn’t as far along in retooling their defense as Seattle is, but their players (an interesting mix of promising young guys like DE Calais Campbell and solid-but-aging vets like S Adrian Wilson) finally got the hang of defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s Dick LeBeau-type defensive schemes in the latter half of the season. Give ’em a full offseason of practice and some shiny new additions in the draft and free agency, and the Cardinals’ defense could really become something special. Y’know, special, like the Seahawks’ defense already is.
Playoff berths are not at stake for either team, but divisional bragging rights are. The winner will finish second in the NFC West with an 8-8 record, while the loser has to settle for 7-9 and third place. It’s time to end the season on a high note.