The Seattle Seahawks reached the Super Bowl the last time they
earned home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
They can secure home field again with a win Sunday over the
visiting Arizona Cardinals – who would be all but eliminated from
postseason contention with a loss.
With just Sunday’s game against Arizona and next week’s contest
versus St. Louis remaining, Seattle (12-2) could be playing at
CenturyLink Field until the Super Bowl, should they get that far.
The Seahawks, who have won 14 regular-season home games in a row
since losing Dec. 24, 2011, to San Francisco, lost Super Bowl XL to
Pittsburgh after finishing with the NFC’s best record in 2005.
“Here we come this week and there’s nothing new, which is a good
thing. We’re going to make the most of what we got,” said coach
Pete Carroll, who can clinch his second division title with Seattle
and the third of his career. “I would’ve wanted it as soon as we
could’ve won it and dealt with that challenge, but right now I
think we understand clearly what we’re trying to get done
Seattle was dominant at MetLife Stadium – the site of this
year’s Super Bowl – in a 23-0 victory over the Giants last week.
The Seahawks gave up a season-low 181 yards and the league’s top
pass defense (174.2 ypg) intercepted Eli Manning five times,
including two each by corners Richard Sherman and Byron
Sherman, whose six interceptions are tied for the NFL lead, has
four picks and two fumble recoveries over his last four games
“All the guys contributed, the linebacker and everyone
contributed,” Carroll said. “The fact that we stayed on top of the
deep ball really well again and when they threw it, we were there
to challenge the ball as well as played tight coverage underneath.
So there was some really cool stuff.”
The Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer seven times and intercepted
him twice in a 34-22 Week 7 win in Arizona. The Cardinals (9-5)
have won six of seven since, with Palmer’s 106.0 passer rating
among the NFL’s best during that stretch.
“We’re starting to get a lot of confidence as a team,” Palmer
Prior to this year, he lost his only other previous start in
Seattle, throwing for 342 yards with two interceptions in a 24-21
loss for Cincinnati on Sept. 23, 2007.
“Obviously, they’re confident for a reason,” Palmer said.
“They’ve won a lot of football games, they’ve won at home, but
we’ve been playing well the past couple of months. It’s a big game
for them, a big game for us.”
Arizona, which has already clinched its first winning season
since 2009, wouldn’t even ensure itself of a playoff spot with a
win Sunday followed by a home victory over the 49ers next week. The
11 wins would tie a franchise record. The 2008 New England Patriots
are the only club during the 12-team format to miss the playoffs
despite winning 11 games.
”The last time we were there, obviously everyone knows what
happened,” coach Bruce Arians said of Arizona’s 58-0 loss at
Seattle last season. That was one of 11 losses in 12 games to close
the year, leading to Ken Whisenhunt’s firing.
“That wasn’t we, that was another team. So this is our barometer
to see where we’re at,” Arians said.
Palmer is expected to play despite nursing a high ankle sprain,
but his primary target’s status seems more uncertain.
Larry Fitzgerald’s streak of 104 consecutive games played could
be in jeopardy after he suffered a concussion late in the
Cardinals’ 37-34 overtime win at Tennessee last week. Fitzgerald
said he practiced fully on Thursday but has one more concussion
test to pass with an independent neurologist before he is cleared
Seattle has limited Fitzgerald to 82 yards on seven catches and
no scores in the last three matchups.
Keeping Russell Wilson in check will likely be a point of
emphasis given the season-high 394 yards passing the Cardinals
surrendered last week to the Titans. Wilson has yet to lose at home
in his career, recording a 119.2 passer rating with 29 TDs compared
to six interceptions.
Marshawn Lynch ran 21 times for 91 yards and a touchdown in the
teams’ meeting. Arizona has limited opponents to an average of 69.4
rushing yards per game and two scores in seven games since.
It’s not clear if Percy Harvin (hip) will play. He has only
appeared in Seattle’s Week 11 victory over Minnesota.
Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner was suspended indefinitely
Wednesday by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.
Browner hasn’t played since Week 10 and won’t be able to file for
reinstatement for a year. His contract expires at the end of the
Seattle, which has won five of the last seven meetings, can tie
the all-time series at 15 wins each with a victory.