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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

December 19, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Seahawks vs. Cardinals: Updated media predictions, and Seattle’s the runaway pick

12-21-14As kickoff for the Seahawks’ crucial showdown against the Arizona Cardinnals in Glendale, Ariz., here’s a roundup of picks by the national media and major newspapers.

It’s still lopsided in favor of Seattle, despite Arizona having the best record in the NFC. How lopsided? I found 83 writers who pick Seattle, and only five who think Arizona will win.

Even the Las Vegas oddsmakers agree, making Seattle a 7- or 8-point favorite the past week.

Why? The short answer: The best defense in the NFL should smother Ryan Lindley, a third-string quarterback who has never thrown a touchdown pass in the NFL, home-field disadvantage or not. The Seahawks won the first bruising matchup this season, 19-3, and the last time Lindley played against Seattle, Arizona lost 58-0 in 2012. No one predicts another blowout, but it’s hard to argue with that logic.

The game is huge for both teams. Arizona can clinch the NFC West title with a victory, and Seattle can clinch a playoff spot.

There some pretty interesting predictions. XN Sports thinks Seattle will shut out Lindley and Arizona.

Having so many sources predict a Seahawks victory should be comforting for the 12th Man, but I’ve talked to several Seahawks fans who say it makes them nervous. How do you feel about it? Weigh in the comments in this story or send me an email at dshelton@seattletimes.com.

This isn’t a prediction, but Fivethirty-eight.com, a website that analyzes sports statistics, considers the Cardinals the luckiest team in the NFL. Going into this showdown, I’m not sure if that makes Seahawks fans feel better or worse.

And if you want to smile before the game, read a story a visiting Russian journalist wrote for The Seattle Times two years ago after watching his first American football game. That game happened to be the Seahawks’ 58-0 victory over Lindley and Arizona. Ivan Yurchenko found the game perplexing, and I’ll never forget translating the story Ivan wrote in Russian via a website and then sitting down with him and trying to figure out some words and phrases that didn’t seem to translate. Ivan called the Seagals “incendiary,” for instance. Ivan, who lives in Moscow, has become a huge Seahawks fan, and he messaged me via Facebook a few days ago with two words that need no translation: “Go, Seahawks!”

For your pregame reading pleasure, here’s a two-minute drill of media predictions.

SEATTLE TIMES

All four pick the Seahawks.

Jerry Brewer: Seahawks 13, Cardinals 2 – How bad will it be for Arizona’s offense against the Seahawks’ surging defense? So bad that they’ll need a Seahawks safety just to score.

Bob Condotta: Seahawks 13, Cardinals 9 – This shapes up as a classic defensive standoff with a good Arizona defense playing at home in front of what figures to be a raucous crowd, and the Cardinals starting Ryan Lindley at QB. Seattle’s running game will prove the difference, grinding out a win.

Jayson Jenks: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 10 – As long as Seattle’s offense takes care of the ball and special teams do their jobs, the Seahawks shouldn’t have any problems taking control of the NFC West in Arizona.

Larry Stone: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 13 – This Seattle roll isn’t going to stop in Arizona, where the Cardinals will start Lindley — five weeks from being on the Chargers’ practice squad. The Cardinals are 7-0 at home, but their depleted offense won’t be able to overcome Seahawks’ recharged defense.

SI.COM

One picks the Seahawks.

Don Banks: Seahawks 23, Cardinals 13 – If the Cardinals can somehow pull out one more win, wrapping up the NFC West and the top seed in the NFC playoffs in one fell swoop, it’ll go down as one of the greatest coaching jobs in recent NFL history. But I just don’t see Arizona and third-string-turned-starting-quarterback Ryan Lindley having the offensive firepower to score much on Seattle, given the roll the Seahawks defense has been on. If Seattle intends to get back to Glendale in six weeks, it has to have this game and the path it would provide to the No. 1 seed. Everything has been falling the Seahawks’ way for the past month or so, and Arizona won’t be stopping them now.

NFL.COM

All six pick the Seahawks.

Elliot Harrison: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 14 – Seattle should prevail in one of the marquee matchups of Week 16 if you go by, well, the matchups. That said, the Seahawks can ill afford another 100-yard-penalty day. Last year, they led the NFL with 128 penalties. This season, they’re on pace to go right past that (without collecting $200). Pete Carroll will move one step closer to collecting another NFC West title, though, as the Cardinals will have trouble rattling Russell Wilson the way they have other QBs. What a great time for Ryan Lindley to get an opportunity to audition for all the NFL teams … going against arguably the best defense in the league. One last note: Fantasy owners who have been leaning on Marshawn Lynch of late will find that this Arizona group is a freaking wall.

ESPN.COM

Fourteen of 16 pick the Seahawks.

Terry Blount:  Seahawks 20, Cardinals 9 – The Seahawks defense has allowed only three touchdowns and 27 points in the past four games, including a 19-3 victory over the Cardinals in Seattle. And that was with Drew Stanton at quarterback. Arizona did not score a TD last week in the 12-6 win over St. Louis. How in the world can they score enough to beat the Seahawks with a third-string QB going against the hottest defense in the NFL? They can’t.

Josh Weinfuss: Seahawks 17, Cardinals 13 – Even though the Cardinals are 7-0 at home and have a plus-52 point differential at University of Phoenix Stadium, touchdowns have been tough to come by for Arizona, having scored just two in the past four games. And with Ryan Lindley at quarterback, they may be even scarcer. He’s thrown an NFL-record 181 attempts without a touchdown. The Cardinals will continue to run the ball more but it’ll lead to field goals, not touchdowns.

CBSSPORTS.COM

All eight pick the Seahawks

Pete Prisco: Seahawks 17, Cardinals 14 – This will be a defensive war. These two will get after each other. It’s going to be a tough challenge, though, for the Arizona offense with Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals hit Russell Wilson a lot in the past two games. That won’t change, but the Seattle offense has a big edge here. Seahawks take it.

“INSIDE THE  NFL” (VIDEO)

All three pick the Seahawks.

Ed Reed: Seattle’s defense right now is hungry; they are very hungry. Those guys are playing exciting football. They are moving the offensive linemen back … If you’re the backup to the backup and you’ve got a lineman in your face and you’re trying to throw, the ball’s going to sail. And you’ve got Earl Thomas back there and that defense.

Michael Irving: Seattle is where they want to be. I remember coming back from winning super bowls, man. All you’re waiting to do is to waiting untill the final quarter of the season and crank this thing up. And they have ‘crunked’ this thing up. They are playing ball and getting ready for the playoffs. I’m picking Seattle to win this game.

Boomer Esiason: You are asking basically an unproven Ryan Lindley to go against the best defense in football. If you look at statistics for the last 12,  then the last eight games and the last four games, they’re getting better and better and better. They may be better right now defensively than there were at any point last year. It’s not going to be easy. You know they are going to be jacked up in Arizona.

USA TODAY

All seven pick the Seahawks.

YAHOO.COM

All three pick the Seahawks.

Quarterback Ryan Lindley of Arizona passes against the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 11 in St Louis.  Michael Thomas / Getty Images

Quarterback Ryan Lindley of Arizona passes against the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 11 in St Louis.
Michael Thomas / Getty Images

FOXSPORTS.COM

One picks the Cardinals.

Peter Schrager: Cardinals 17, Seahawks 16 – I had my buddy and FOXSports.com writer Jimmy Traina on my NFL podcast this week and we spoke for about 10 minutes on this game, in particular. Jimmy says the Cardinals will score no points. I say Arizona wins outright. We found a happy medium — Cardinals +8 — and wagered tickets to Larry David’s new Broadway show on the outcome. I don’t want to get into “how” the Cardinals will beat the Seahawks, because they’ve defied that kind of logic 11 times already this season. I’m all in on Bruce Arians in this one, catering a game plan specific to Ryan Lindley and finding a way. Want to get on this bandwagon? Well, it’s completely empty … as far as I can tell … besides me. I’ll enjoy that Larry David play in February, and might even buy Jimmy his popcorn.

SPORTINGNEWS.COM

Two picks for the Seahawks.

David Steele: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 13 – The Seahawks have all the momentum: seven wins in their last eight games, Russell Wilson on the top of his game, the defense looking even stingier than it did last year, more unyielding than playmaking. Arizona, meanwhile, is down to its third-string quarterback, won a defensive grinder in St. Louis and will either be rusty from not playing in 10 days, or rested and healthy.

Seattle also has the advantage of having beaten the Cardinals last month at home, in the first of a Thanksgiving week two-game run that thrust them back into the Super Bowl discussion and woke them out of their midseason slumber. Arizona has been staggered a few times lately in the standings and with their health.

But because of their defense and because they keep rallying around whoever replaced the latest injured quarterback, the Cardinals are hard to put away. On their home field, they’ll be hard to put away again. But even if they were able to trot out someone other than untested Ryan Lindley, outperforming Wilson at this time of year would be too tall a task.

Vinny Iyer: Seahawks 26, Cardinals 9 –  It’s admirable what Bruce Arians is doing in Arizona, Given the stats and personnel, it’s nothing short of a legendary coaching job. But he can’t change the fact that Ryan Lindley, he of shaky talent and no touchdown passes, has to be his quarterback against a red-hot Seahawks defense that makes even future Hall of Fame passers look silly. The Cardinals’ defense, fueled by prime-time emotion, will keep it close for a while, but eventually Lindley will make multiple game-dooming mistakes under pressure.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

One picks the Seahawks.

Sam Farmer: Seahawks 16, Cardinals 13 – The Cardinals are on their fourth quarterback, and that’s never good. They’re running the ball well, though, and an upset isn’t out of the question. Seattle, in a close one.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC/AZCENTRAL.COM

One picks the Cardinals.

Kent Somers: Cardinals 17, Seahawks 14 – There aren’t many logical reasons to pick the Cardinals Sunday night. They are starting a third-team quarterback against the defending Super Bowl champions, who have won eight of last nine games. The Cardinals have won their last two after a two-game slide, but they are not on the kind of roll that Seattle is. But, the Cardinals are at home, although there will be a decent contingent of Seahawks’ fans in attendance. Seattle is dealing with injuries on the offensive line, and the Cardinals defensive front is formidable. That, plus home-field advantage, gives the Cardinals the upset victory and the NFC West title.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Eight of nine pick the Seahawks.

MIAMI HERALD

One picks the Seahawks,

Greg Cote: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 16 – This matchup and Falcons-Saints drew rancorous debate from the GOTW committee, but these teams’ far-better records made this a clear call. The prime-time stage is merited. Cardinals already are playoff-clinched but would take NFC West title and playoff home-field advantage by winning. Seahawks have a 95 percent playoff likelihood and will clinch playoff spot with a win here if Eagles, Lions or Packers lose. Arizona is 7-0 at home, but I doubt that helps much here. Seattle won first meeting 19-3, and I don’t imagine the Cacti offense will be much better with injuries putting fourth-string QB Ryan Lindley in charge. He’s 0-7 on TDs-picks in four career starts, and now he’s facing the league’s best defense. Ouch. Line is too big, though. ’Zona consistently gets too little respect.

Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks celebrates after sacking Ryan Lindley in Seattle's 2012 victory at CenturyLink Field.  Kevin Casey / Getty Images

Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks celebrates after sacking Ryan Lindley in Seattle’s 2012 victory at CenturyLink Field.
Kevin Casey / Getty Images

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE

One picks the Seahawks.

Gerry Dulac: Seahawks 12, Cardinals 3 – Without QB Drew Stanton, the Cardinals will have to win more games like they did last week against the Rams (12-6). That score could repeat against the Seahawks, who have allowed just 13 points in the past three games and can grab control of home-field advantage in the NFC with a victory.

HOUSTON CHRONICLE

One picks the Seahawks.

John McClain: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17.

BLEACHER REPORT

Fourteen of 16 pick the Seahawks.

Sean Tomlinson: The Cardinals might actually be better off attempting the offense that briefly neutralized Bobby Boucher in The Waterboy, a classic piece of ’90s filmmaking. Just kneel down every play to prevent turnovers, and hope the defense does all the scoring (for the record, Arizona is third with four defensive touchdowns).

The Seahawks have allowed an average of only 6.75 points per game over the last four weeks. If the Cardinals defense bends even a little bit, this game will get ugly fast.

SB NATION

All six pick the Seahawks.

One of the biggest games of the week is the Sunday night battle between the Seahawks (10-4) and the Cardinals (11-3), a game that could ultimately decide not only the NFC West champion, but also the No. 1 seed in the conference. Our experts are unanimously picking Seattle to win on the road over Arizona — a team that somehow has survived a ton of injuries to remain atop the league standings, and will be starting its third-string quarterback on Sunday. One of the biggest games of the week is the Sunday night battle between the Seahawks (10-4) and the Cardinals (11-3), a game that could ultimately decide not only the NFC West champion, but also the No. 1 seed in the conference. Our experts are unanimously picking Seattle to win on the road over Arizona — a team that somehow has survived a ton of injuries to remain atop the league standings, and will be starting its third-string quarterback on Sunday.

XN SPORTS

Sam Spiegelman: Bold prediction – With a win, Seattle can tie Arizona with an 11-4 record and move back into first place in the NFC West. Oh, and what a story that would be after the champs began the year 3-3 with back-to-back losses to Dallas and St. Louis, then lost in Week 11 in Kansas City. Overreaction — I think so, too. The Seahawks are rolling and again look to be the class of not only the NFC, but the entire NFL. The offense isn’t wowing anybody, but the defense certainly is. And there may not be a bigger mismatch this weekend then Seattle’s D lining up against a third-string quarterback with four starts under his belt. The Seahawks roll Arizona in the desert, posting a shutout of the lowly Cardinals, who’ll need a bit of luck and a lot of health to regain their form in the postseason.

RANT SPORTS

One picks the Seaheaks

Jordan Wevers: Seahawks 23, Cardinals 9 – Arizona will now turn to third-string QB Ryan Lindley. As a Cardinals fan, it’s tough to be optimistic about him. A sixth-round draft pick in 2012, he had a TD:INT ratio of 1.6:1 in four college seasons with the San Diego State Aztecs. In the NFL, Lindley has started only four games in his career, all of which came during the 2012 season. His QBR that year was 46.7, going hand-in-hand with a 1-3 record. He did not have the guidance of Arians that year, nor a top ranked defense to lean on, but Arizona is not playing the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. They are facing both the defending Super Bowl champions and an extremely competitive division rival — with that comes intense pressure.An even worse historical omen for Lindley is he faced the Seahawks in 2012, though not as a starter. He completed 8-of-17 passes for 59 yards, and Seattle ultimately won the game 58-0.

The Cardinals will try to control the game with runs by tailbacks Stepfan Taylor and Kerwynn Williams. When that fails, Lindley will make mistakes in the passing game. Expect the Seahawks’ offense to get plenty of cracks to wear down the normally stout Cardinals defense. They will get worn down. When they do, Marshawn Lynch will take over and the game will get out of reach for the Cardinals, likely towards the end of the third quarter.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. Opinions expressed are those of authors, and The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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