To be honest, I feel pretty bad for the Arizona Cardinals. This season offered their best start in franchise history but also saw the fall of not just their starter in Carson Palmer, but also presumably their one hope at a title in backup QB Drew Stanton. Now it’s up to third-stringer Ryan Lindley to try and lead the birds past the first round of playoff action.
But before they can even think that far ahead, they have to fight for a division title on Sunday.
Sunday evening will be the setting for the ultimate NFC West showdown. The Cardinals will welcome the defending NFC and Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks with pride, persistence, and most importantly major playoff position on the line.
With a win, Seattle would move into not just first place in their division, but first overall in the playoff picture (according to ESPN’s Playoff Machine). This would mean that Seattle would now have home-field advantage throughout this year’s playoffs–a determining factor in their championship run last season.
With a loss, the Cardinals could fall as low as the sixth seed and not be able to play a home playoff game unless they somehow make it to February.
Here are three reasons that Sunday’s game is huge for the bigger picture in the NFC:
1. THE HAWKS ARE RED- HOT
Russell Wilson & Co. are more than ready for their match up against the Cardinals on Sunday. Coming into the game, Seattle has won seven of their last ten contests in dominant fashion while Arizona has had everything but an utter collapse happen.
And don’t worry, that’s still possible and lurking around the corner–pending Sunday.
Before falling to the Falcons of Atlanta and Seattle a couple of weeks ago, the Cardinals were on fire. This season they’ve managed an impressive resume, knocking off St. Louis in both of their meeting with the Rams– a feat that neither the Seahawks, 49ers, or even Peyton Manning‘s Broncos were able to accomplish this year.
But then the fallout began.
And now it’s up to Ryan Lindley to try and stop the bleeding.
2. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
The Seahawks, believe it or not, are no stranger to Lindley at QB. Two seasons ago was Lindley’s first appearance against the surging Legion of Boom (as it’s known now) and it was NOT pretty. Seattle forced a total of eight turnovers in that game and forced then-starter John Skelton off the field and summoned Lindley to try and make something happen.
The destruction of the Cardinals was so bad that the backup for Seattle, the starter that was snubbed for Russell Wilson that year, even got several snaps. Four interceptions and four forced and recovered fumbles gave the Seahawks the game from the early stages and they didn’t look back.
If Richard Sherman and Seattle’s defense can muster anything like they did the last time they met with Ryan Lindley, expect a lot of joy in the Emerald City coming shortly.
3. GUTS & GLORY
One major factor in determining a good football team and legitimate Super Bowl contender is to first analyze the running game they have going on and then look at how their defense has matched up against the schemes of their opponents throughout the season.
The Seahawks stand alone in both of those categories.
A top-ranked running attack led by Marshawn Lynch, the 12th Man’s favorite player. Recently receiving criticism from league officials and spirited fans alike for his lack of personal access to the media, Lynch taunted those with harsh words by giving one word answers of “Yeah” to all reporters questions following a fine of $100,000 imposed by the league for his silence.
But don’t worry, Lynch, Wilson, and the others in blue and green are ready to wipe away any doubts once and for all in the same stadium they hope to raise the Lombardi trophy in for the second time in two years.
Are you not entertained?