Sunday Night Football: Cardinals slim home favorites against Seahawks

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The health of quarterback Carson Palmer will largely dictate whether the Arizona Cardinals end their home-field futility against the Seattle Seahawks this week. The Cardinals are a shaky 1.5-point favorite against the Seahawks in the Sunday Night Football matchup.

The Seahawks are 4-1 straight-up and 2-3 against the spread this season, while the Cardinals are 3-3 SU and ATS. As well, the Seahawks are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three visits to University of Phoenix Stadium according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Due to his ailing hamstring, being nimble in the pocket might be a challenge for Palmer, especially if edge rushers such as DEs Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark bring pressure. Seattle offers a good pass defense led by CB Richard Sherman and FS Earl Thomas, but has had occasional communication breakdowns. That could leave some big openings for WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, provided Palmer has time to throw.

Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor (groin) might not play, which would benefit Arizona’s cause immensely. Cardinals RB David Johnson is one of the NFL’s best and likely won’t be contained totally, but the Seahawks’ No. 3-ranked run defense rarely lets a runner break into the open field.

Seattle, led by QB Russell Wilson, is 7-2 SU in its last nine road games. The Seahawks offensive line, which is best described as a work in progress, has their work cut out for them. Arizona has one of the NFL’s stingiest pass defenses, with OLB Chandler Jones and OLB  Markus Golden having combined for 10 of their 19 sacks.

One variable is how the Cardinals will scheme against Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin. Baldwin thrives in the slot, while All-Pro CB  Patrick Peterson plays on the perimeter. Free safety Tyrann Mathieu will have to be sharp for the Cardinals.

Wilson has been productive without much help from the ground game. Seattle, with Christine Michael handling most of the work, averages a meager 3.2 yards per rush, 30th in the NFL. The Cardinals are giving up 4.0 yards per rush, but ILB Kevin Minter is developing into an on-field leader.

The total has gone under on the NFL betting lines in four of the Cardinals’ last five games against NFC West teams. The total has gone over in 10 of the Seahawks’ last 12 road games against the Cardinals.

WATCH: Seahawks’ Paul Richardson pulls in absurd touchdown catch against Lions

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It took until the first round of the playoffs, but we may finally have our winner for catch of the year.

On 4th and goal at the Lions’ 2, Russell Wilson lobbed up a pass to Paul Richardson, who was completely covered by Tavon Wilson.

Richardson stuck out his left hand and pulled in a miraculous grab to give Seattle the lead.

[Watch the rest of the second half from Seattle on NBC Sports Live]

Simply amazing.

 

Seahawks, Texans are the betting favorites for Saturday’s Wild Card games

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The Seattle Seahawks’ sporadic scoring output is something to consider when looking at the big point spread against the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks are listed as eight-point favorites against the Lions in their NFC wild card matchup set for Saturday at CenturyLink Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Seahawks are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone and the Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games. However, Seattle scored 10 or fewer points four times at home this season, and none of those instances came against a premier defense.

The Lions, 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS, are coming into the playoffs on a three-loss skid. One boon to the Lions’ chances is that the Seahawks, without free safety Earl Thomas, have been hopeless at stopping deep passes. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to hit a few deep shots to the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in order to compensate for a nearly nonexistent running game. That could help the Lions, who are 0-8 SU in their last eight playoff games, make it interesting.

The Seahawks, 10-5-1 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, have never lost at home in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. One can reasonably expect they will find some of their familiar postseason form. Seattle’s pass protection and run blocking has been problematic, so there could be opportunities to disrupt Wilson’s timing. Otherwise, WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham could have big nights.

The total has gone under in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games. The total has gone over in five of the Seahawks’ last six games in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans are listed as four-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup.

The Raiders, 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS, will have rookie third-stringer Connor Cook become the first NFL QB to get his first career start in the playoffs. With Cook playing instead of Derek Carr (broken fibula), Houston might not have to honor the deep pass threat and can thus commit to containing RB Latavius Murray and limiting the damage on short-range passes to WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.

The fact erratic Brock Osweiler is back in at QB might account for why the Texans, who are 9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS, are not a bigger favorite against a hobbled team. The Raiders simply haven’t stopped anyone when teams have schemed to slow down edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. If Osweiler can curb his tendency to be overaggressive and allow WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller to have opportunities, the Texans should be able to move the ball steadily.

Keep in mind, though, that the visiting team has gone 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four editions of this matchup. The total has gone over in seven of the Raiders’ last 10 games.  The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 12 games at home.