By Dave Thomas

It was just the other week when the Seattle Seahawks were flying high, winners of five straight games. All it took to end this run, however, was a gritty St. Louis team.

With Sunday’s 23-17 loss at home to the Rams, Seattle falls to 9-6. The Seahawks will have one more chance at reaching a 10-win season and ride into the first round of the NFC playoffs with momentum. The loss also dropped Seattle for now into the sixth and final seed for the playoffs, this coupled with Minnesota’s resounding win Sunday evening over the New York Giants.

The Cardinals Look Like The Team To Beat In The NFC

Heading into the contest, Arizona is a team heavy in confidence, especially after winning up in Seattle earlier this season (39-32). Meanwhile, the Seahawks look to rebound from their second loss this season to St. Louis. With something potentially to play for, not to mention the fact that the Seahawks want to go into the playoffs feeling good about themselves and not off of a two-game losing streak, the stage is set for what should be an interesting match-up in Glendale.

Arizona On Offense

The Cardinals come into Sunday’s contest with a red-hot quarterback in veteran Carson Palmer (4,277 yards passing, 32 TD’s). Among Palmer’s top targets this season have been veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (1,131 yards, seven touchdowns) and John Brown (933 yards receiving, six TD’s). While Arizona’s ground game has been challenged at times this season due to injuries, Andre Ellington did rush for 40 yards (247 yards on the season) in the team’s 38-8 dismantling over Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay this past Sunday.

Cardinals On Defense

On the defensive side of the pigskin, Arizona sacked Green Bay quarterbacks nine times in Sunday’s rout. To date, Deone Bucannon (99 total tackles), Rashad Johnson (five interceptions) and Dwight Freeney (four sacks) lead the way).

NFC Playoff Seeds Still Up For Grabs

So, the Seahawks now head to NFC West champion Arizona this coming Sunday for the regular season finale, a meeting that will still potentially have implications for both teams. Depending on what both Carolina (14-1) and Minnesota (10-5) do earlier in the day, Arizona and Seattle could change their seeding positions by day’s end. Carolina still holds the top spot in the NFC playoff seeding, while Minnesota is for now ahead of the Seahawks.

Either way, Seattle and head coach Pete Carroll will need to dial-up some of that playoff magic the team relied on the last two seasons in order to reach the conference championship game, successfully defend the back-to-back NFC crowns, and secure a spot in Santa Clara, Calif. on Feb. 7 for Super Bowl 50.

Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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