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.