Game Scout: Arizona Cardinals (3-12) At Seattle Seahawks (9-6)
SERIES HISTORY: 40th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 19-19-1. Since joining the NFC West in 2002, the Seahawks have held the advantage, winning 17 out of 31 games. Road teams have dominated the rivalry in recent years, as the home team hasn't been victorious since the Seahawks beat the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field in November 2014.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Facing off against a Cardinals defense that ranks dead last in the NFL by surrendering over 150 rushing yards per game, Seattle won't divert from what has worked all season. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will dial up run plays for Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny early and often, keeping Arizona's talented pass rushers at bay and creating opportunities for Russell Wilson in the play-action passing game.
Arizona rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has passed for 240 or more yards just three times this season, and in his last two games combined, he's thrown for just 219 yards. It's doubtful to think the passing game will be much of a factor on Sunday against the Seahawks unless Rosen can establish some continuity with Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson. That's been spotty all year, leaving the Cardinals to rely as much as they possibly can on a ground game that only grinds out yards occasionally. Once the Cardinals fall behind, their running game usually turns completely south and Rosen is left to try to make plays happen out of nowhere. He's been sacked 39 times.
Defensively, the Cardinals' inferior rush defense will be tasked with trying to stop the most productive rush offense in the league. After allowing 215 yards to the Falcons and 269 to the Rams the last two weeks, things could get particularly ugly at CenturyLink Field.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--OUT: TE Ricky Seals-Jones (shoulder)
--QUESTIONABLE: DE Markus Golden (ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (back, neck)
--DOUBTFUL: G J.R. Sweezy (foot)
--QUESTIONABLE: G D.J. Fluker (hamstring), DE Dion Jordan (knee), S Bradley McDougald (knee), RB Rashaad Penny (knee), S Tedric Thompson (ankle)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. Averaging only 3.6 yards per carry in Arizona's anemic offense, Johnson hasn't been able to replicate his phenomenal production from two years ago. But on a team lacking play-makers, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will continue to seek ways to get the football into his hands as a runner and receiver. Wagner hasn't been shy in expressing his respect for Johnson in the past, as the versatile back has given the Seahawks fits in prior seasons.
--Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin. The Seahawks contained Fitzgerald earlier this season, limiting him to three receptions for 38 yards, and Griffin will have to help lead a similar effort this week. Fitzgerald remains the Cardinals' only viable threat at wide receiver and his production has been heating up even as rookie QB Josh Rosen continues to struggle. Griffin figures to be busy on Sunday in what could possibly be Fitzgerald's last NFL game.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Seahawks DE Dion Jordan. Knee issues have prevented the ex-Oregon star to produce much for the Seahawks this season, but he's played much better of late, including posting his best performance of the year against the Chiefs last Sunday. Along with recording his first sack of the season, Jordan also forced a fumble against running back Damien Williams. Finishing with a season-high five tackles, two quarterback hits, and a sack, Jordan may be hitting his stride just in time for the playoffs.
FAST FACTS: CARDINALS QB JOSH ROSEN (rookie) passed for 180 yards & TD with 88.5 rating in only career meeting. ... RB DAVID JOHNSON had 67 scrimmage yards (35 rush, 32 rec.) & TD catch in Week 16. Aims for his 3rd in row with TD. Had 112 scrimmage yards (71 rush, 41 rec.) & rush TD in Week 4 meeting. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Sea. with 100+ scrimmage yards. ... WR LARRY FITZGERALD had 6 receptions for 53 yards & 32-yard TD pass last week, his 1st-career pass TD. Has 5+ receptions in 3 of his past 5 on road. ... Rookie WR TRENT SHERFIELD led team with 6 catches for 62 yards last week. Has 60+ rec. yards in 2 of his past 3. ... DE CHANDLER JONES had sack in last meeting. Has 8.5 sacks & 2 FFs in 6 career games vs. Sea. Since 2016, leads NFL in sacks (40) & ranks 2nd in TFL (55). ... CB PATRICK PETERSON since entering NFL in 2011, ties for 3rd in INTs (23). ... DE BENSON MAYOWA had sack, FF & PD in Week 16. ... SEAHAWKS QB RUSSELL WILSON passed for 271 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 127.2 rating last week. Has 7 games with 3+ TD passes this season, most in single season in franchise history. Has 2+ TD passes & 100+ rating in 3 of his past 4 vs. Az. Has 100+ rating in 6 of his past 7. ... RB CHRIS CARSON rushed for 116 yards & 2 TDs last week. Has 1,029 rush yards in 2018, his 1st-career season with 1,000+ rush yards. ... WR DOUG BALDWIN had 7 receptions for 126 yards & TD last week. Aims for his 4th in row with TD catch. Aims for his 4th in row at home vs. Az. with 90+ rec. yards & TD. ... WR TYLER LOCKETT leads team with 899 rec. yards & needs 101 for his 1st-career 1,000-yard season. ... LB BOBBY WAGNER led team with 12 tackles last week. Has 32 tackles, sack, FF, FR & 98-yard INT-TD in his past 3 vs. division. Has 124 tackles this season & has 100+ tackles in all 7 career seasons. ... DE FRANK CLARK leads team with career-high 12 sacks this season. Has 4 sacks in his past 5 at home.
PREDICTION: Seattle already has wrapped up a playoff berth while the Cardinals are relegated to spoilers. But, owning the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, they may not be motivated to spoil anything.
OUR PICK: Seahawks, 26-16