Tale Of The Tape: Arizona Cardinals At Seattle Seahawks
- QuarterbackWhile the Cardinals have had a surprisingly good season and have an impressive 9-5 record, their playoff chances are poor since they close the season with games against the Seahawks and 49ers. Still, Carson Palmer has had a terrific year as he has completed 64.5 percent of his passes and he has thrown just two interceptions in the last five games.Russell Wilson is probably not going to get serious MVP consideration because Peyton Manning has had such an overwhelming statistical year. However, Wilson is the best player on the best team in football. He is a physically gifted player who is smart and resourceful. Wilson has completed 64.7 percent of his passes and has a 24-8 TD-interception ratio. He has also rushed for 508 yards.
- OffenseThe Cardinals have been largely one-dimensional on offense because they have not gotten much from Rashard Mendenhall (3.1 yards per carry) in the running game. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald suffered a concussion against the Titans and may not be at his best in this game. Michael Floyd has been solid and he has a team-high 15 plays of 20 yards or more.The Seahawks have a powerful running game that tends to drain opposing defenses. Marshawn Lynch is a tough, pounding running back who sets the tone for the offense and takes much of the pressure off of Wilson. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are solid receivers who can make tough catches. If Percy Harvin (hip labrum) can come back, the Seahawks become more dynamic on offense.
- DefenseThe Cardinals were able to steal a tough road win against the Titans when cornerback Antoine Cason made a key interception in overtime to set the offense up for the game-winning drive. The Cardinals are quite competitive on the defensive side of the ball, as they rank seventh overall and first against the run. Middle linebacker Karlos Dansby leads the team with 111 tackles.The Seahawks play with a swagger and that strut comes from the performance of their defense. The Seahawks rank first overall and first against the pass. Cornerback Richard Sherman is one of the best cover men in the league and he has 19 passes defensed and six interceptions. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is a stud and he leads the team with 99 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Cardinals do a solid job of covering kickoffs and punts, but they have not gotten the kind of production from Patrick Peterson and Javier Arenas they thought they would get this season. Placekicker Jay Feely kicked the game-winning field goal vs. Tennessee in Week 15 and he is dependable.The Seahawks have overpowering special teams coverage. Opponents are averaging 1.4 yards per punt return with a long of 10 yards this season. PK Steven Hauschka has made 30-of-31 FG attempts and punter Jon Ryan gets exceptional height on his punts.
The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West title and the top seed in the conference playoffs with a win in this game. They will come out hard and try to put a stranglehold on this game early. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor