Russell Wilson
Seahawks-Cardinals Preview
Russell Wilson

Seahawks-Cardinals Preview

Published Dec. 30, 2015 4:44 p.m. ET

While the Arizona Cardinals will have all hands on deck to try and close a historic regular season on a high note, the Seattle Seahawks hope to regain momentum for the postseason following a flat performance.

The Cardinals won't rest anyone they have available for Sunday's regular-season finale as they go for the NFC's top playoff seed against the visiting Seahawks.

Arizona (13-2) has set a franchise record for wins in a season and can match another from 1948 with its 10th straight victory. The Cardinals already locked up the No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye, but with a win and a Carolina loss, the NFC side of the bracket would go through Glendale.

Carolina suffered its first loss at Atlanta in Week 16 and hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday.


''I don't think you get anything out of resting guys, especially playing a team that's in our division and we haven't beaten them at home in a couple of years,'' Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. ''We don't want to start a precedent now.''

Arians is 2-3 against Seattle in his three years on the Cardinals sideline, including losses in the last two meetings in Arizona. Seattle won the NFC West the last two seasons on the way to consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

Besides looking to sweep the Seahawks (9-6) for the first time since 2009, the Cardinals could send a message in a preview of a possible playoff matchup.

''Got a lot of momentum going our way, and every time you go out there and you're playing good football like we are, you want to keep it going,'' defensive end Calais Campbell said. ''I definitely circled that game on the calendar.''

Arizona leads the NFL in total offense (6,301 yards) and is fifth in total defense (4,793). The Cardinals are the only team with more touchdowns (57) than punts (55). Seattle's defense has held opponents to averages of 12.3 points and 216 total yards in the last four games.

The Cardinals clinched a first-round bye with last week's 38-8 rout of Green Bay, posting maybe their best defensive performance of the season. Arizona had nine sacks, returned two fumbles for touchdowns, held the Packers to 178 total yards and forced four turnovers for the second straight week.

''I thought we played better in Seattle,'' Arians said.

That was a 39-32 win Nov. 15 that gave the Cardinals a commanding three-game division lead and washed away the thought that their 6-2 start was buoyed by easy competition.

Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns, and Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd combined for 243 receiving yards and two scores. The defense recorded a safety, interception, two sacks and seven pass deflections in a hostile Seattle environment.

That was the last game that Marshawn Lynch played due to an abdominal injury that later required surgery, and he will miss his seventh straight game this weekend. Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday he hopes Lynch will be able to rejoin the team next week and be available for the playoffs.

In the meantime, the Seahawks are left with a makeshift running back corps. They rattled off five straight wins without Lynch, clinching a wild-card spot in the process, but backup Thomas Rawls was lost for the season in Week 14 with a broken ankle. Seattle still buried lowly Cleveland 30-13 without a true workhorse back on Dec. 20, but the hole in the backfield was felt in last week's 23-17 loss to St. Louis.

Christine Michael and Bryce Brown, each signed following Rawls' injury, combined for 15 yards on 13 carries. The Seahawks finished with 60 yards rushing, their lowest total since October 2013 and first time failing to reach 100 since Week 6 of last season.

''When we run the ball for 60 yards we're not on it,'' Carroll said. ''We're in bad shape at the line of scrimmage and we have to do a lot better than that.''

Russell Wilson lost a fumble and threw an interception for his first turnovers since the Arizona game, and the Seahawks committed 10 penalties while costing themselves control of the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs. If Seattle wins and Minnesota loses at Green Bay on Sunday, the Seahawks would reclaim that spot. With a loss, they are ensured of playing on the road through the playoffs.

The Seahawks had a first-round bye each of the past two seasons and only played away from home in the two Super Bowls.

''We're banking on that we have built up a pretty good process in how we do it,'' Carroll said. ''We're going to have to go back to back, maybe to back, to do something really special.''

After opening the season 2-3 on the road, Seattle has won three straight. Arizona is 6-1 at home.


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