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Despite being one of the worst divisions in the NFL a few years ago, the NFC West is now one of the toughest. Two marquee teams from that division will square off in this key game between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. For one of these teams, a win will keep them in the hunt for a top two seed in the conference and the first round bye that comes with it, with a win required to keep the other side’s season alive.
Arizona Cardinals Looking To Extend Lead
Right now, the Arizona Cardinals have a two game lead in the NFC West standings over the Seahawks and St. Louis Rams. This game is so important to Arizona, who can go up by three games on the two time defending NFC champion Seahawks with a victory in this game. While that is important for a number of obvious reasons, there’s a big reason for the Cardinals to clinch early.
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals were decimated by injuries to quarterback Carson Palmer toward the end of the regular season. Their backup quarterbacks were not good enough to fill the void left by Palmer, which resulted in the Cardinals losing their first round playoff matchup with the Carolina Panthers. This season, if the Cardinals can clinch the division ahead of time, they would be able to rest Palmer for some games and reduce his injury risk heading into the postseason.
Seattle Seahawks Must Win
While the Arizona Cardinals are playing games with postseason positioning in mind, the Seattle Seahawks have to continue winning games just to have a chance to qualify for the NFL postseason. Seattle currently sits at four wins and four losses, which has them tied for second place in the NFC West and one and a half games out of position to earn the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC.
Despite all of the late game heroics the Seattle Seahawks enjoyed during the last two seasons, which saw them reach the Super Bowl in both years, the team has been awful in the fourth quarter throughout the year, blowing multiple big leads within those periods at different points of the season. Against a team like the Cardinals, who can put up points in a hurry, Seattle can’t afford to let opportunities with the lead slip away.
Home Field Advantage
For the Seattle Seahawks, having one of the best home field advantages in all of sports should help them in this game. The game will be taking place on Sunday night, which means that fans will have all day to get themselves into a condition to be as loud as they possibly can for a game that means everything to the Seahawks. Expect that to be a factor when the Cardinals are on either end of the field, and for the Seahawks to give the Cardinals all they can handle.
However, the Cardinals are a veteran team with talent at all of the skill positions, and are capable of neutralizing all of that noise with ease with just a few big plays.
By: Jason M. Sanin