The Seahawks come into this week the same way they have for the past few weeks: with no playoff opportunity to play for, nor a first round draft pick to tank for. The Cardinals on the other hand, have locked in their ticket to the playoffs, but their seeding is still up in the air. Based on Football Outsiders projections the Cardinals could end up in the 2nd, 3rd or 5th seed, based on the weekend’s outcomes.
Ryan’s Season Totals
Assigned Games: 26-19-1
Best Bets: 30-19, Up 1358%
- Opening Line: Arizona -5
- Current Line: Arizona -6.5
- Over/Under: 48
- Location: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
- Start Time: 4:25 PM EST, MON 1/9
- Last Meeting: Cardinals 23, Seahawks 13 in Glendale earlier this year
The Cardinals have had an interesting season. As we noted last week:
The Cardinals started off the season red hot, yet, almost eerily similar to the last few years seem to be fizzling out with three straight losses (including the lowly Lions). Most of this we attributed to: Kyler Murray’s injury affecting his accuracy (85% On Target Rate before the injury, 77% since) and the absence of DeAndre Hopkins (Kyler Murray goes from .31 EPA/play to -.01 EPA/play with and without Hopkins on the field). The latter has also caused a semi-personality crisis on offense, as the team has all but stopped using their famed 10 personnel without Hopkins on the field (dropping from 22% to 7%).
Yet just as we started to think they were heading down their typical late season collapse, they upset the red-hot Cowboys at home. All of this makes it hard to try and figure out “which Cardinals team will show up”?
On the other side of the field, the Seahawks are simply a team with nothing to play for, and even if they were motivated, they have been absolutely hampered by their Head Coach’s strategic contributions. Beyond being the EDJ Sports 2nd worst coach by 4th down decision making, Pete Carroll has now shown multiple years of not understanding very elementary level strengths and weaknesses of his team (see personnel example here). In year’s past Carrolls subjective value (being a player’s coach, having the team’s trust etc.) seemed to make up for poor objective contributions, but we’re now at a point where he is a liability to a very average team.
- Against the spread as 7-point favorites or more, the Cardinals are 3-2.
- Arizona has seen seven of its 16 games go over the point total.
- Seattle’s record against the spread is 8-8-0.
Somewhat similar to what we have seen from teams like the Lions, even though the Seahawks have been (mathematically or otherwise) eliminated from playoff contention, they have continued to fight throughout the late season. As hinted above, it’s clear HC Pete Carroll doesn’t know what he’s doing tactically or objectively, but it’s fair to contend he still has “motivational value”. And since the Cardinals need a miracle to improve their seeding (Tampa Bay AND Rams lose, while they win), and there is no chance for scoreboard watching as both games are simultaneous, I just don’t see anything for the Cardinals to play for. Especially in a semi-letdown spot after beating the Cowboys. Believe it or not, we think the Seahawks, fighting for the old man, have a strong motivational edge here.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Cardinals 20