NFL Wire News

Seahawks face Cards with NFC West title on the line


RENTON, Wash. — This is pretty much how the West will be won — the NFC West, that is.

Seattle plays at Arizona on Sunday night in a nationally televised game that will pretty much determine the winner of the division.

Seattle is 10-4 while Arizona is 11-3. But the Seahawks already own a win over the Cardinals. So, if Seattle beats Arizona, the Seahawks move into control of the NFC West needing only to beat St. Louis at home the following Sunday to win the division for a second straight year and third time in five years under coach Pete Carroll.

It also marks a pretty sudden transformation in fate from where Seattle was on Nov. 16, when it had lost at Kansas City to fall to 6-4 and the No. 8 spot in the NFC playoff race.

Seattle remains at No. 5 heading into the weekend. But a win against the Cardinals would put Seattle in prime position to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC — Seattle would just need to avoid a two-team tie with the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite the meandering midseason in which the Seahawks went 5-4 from Week 2 to Week 11, Carroll said the Seahawks always believed they would end up in this situation.

“Like we had hoped I think somewhere in the middle of the year, we come down to the final part of the season with a lot at stake, a lot at hand,” Carroll said. “This is a game that’s going to call for everything.”

Indeed it probably will, even if the Seahawks are an eight-point favorite due in large part to the uncertainty of Arizona’s quarterback situation.

After injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, the Cardinals are starting Ryan Lindley, who a month ago was on San Diego’s practice squad.

Lindley has started only four games, all as a rookie in 2012, and has yet to throw a touchdown pass. And now he has to go against the Legion of Boom — the No. 1 secondary in the NFL.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman acknowledged that in a normal situation there might be a danger in overlooking Lindley.

“I guess overconfidence would be one,” he said of the challenges in preparing for a quarterback for whom there is little film. “But I don’t think that’s one we’re going to have to deal with. I think we’re giving them a tremendous amount of respect, and we’re going to prepare for him as if he’s a starter.

“But I think some teams will be overconfident — not having tape on him, not thinking they have to worry about him — and then a quarterback can come out and make some throws that you weren’t expecting him to make and catch people off guard. But I don’t think we’re going to be caught off guard because we’re very ready for what he has to offer.”

One part of Arizona the Seahawks have plenty of film on is an aggressive defense that ranks 14th overall (350 yards per game) but is third in points allowed (17.4 per game), due in part to forcing turnovers (the Cardinals have a plus-12 turnover differential, tied for second in the NFL) and being tough to run against (the Cardinals are sixth in run defense at 90.4).

Arizona sacked quarterback Russell Wilson seven times when Seattle beat Arizona 19-3 at home in November.

“They’re tough, they’re winning, they have confidence, they get after you, and at home they’re going to have a great crowd, noise and all that stuff,” Carroll said. “It’s a great challenge for us. Our guys are … really excited about this opportunity to go do this, but we know we’re up against it. I think these are kind of the classic NFC West matchups. Defense is going to get after it and (offenses will) try to run the football both sides and all that. We’ll slug it out and see what happens. We’re looking forward to it.”

SERIES HISTORY: Arizona leads 16-15, including three wins when the team was the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, Seattle’s first game in 1976 was against the Cardinals, a 30-24 defeat at the Kingdome. Seattle has won six of the last nine, including a 19-3 win at CenturyLink Field last month.

NOTES: C Max Unger remains questionable while battling knee and ankle injuries. He has missed the last four games. Coach Pete Carroll had hoped he would return this week but said Unger had a “tough recovery” from some heavy work in practice last week. … LT Russell Okung’s status for this week is uncertain after he suffered a bruised lung against the 49ers. He sat out practice Wednesday but Carroll said he would have some work done on Thursday that would clarify his status. … RG J.R. Sweezy (ankle) and TE Tony Moeaki (shoulder) also did not practice.

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