NFC West Title, #1 Seed On The line For Arizona Cardinals


Although a playoff berth was already clinched, a lot is on the line for the Arizona Cardinals against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football in a high-stake NFC West showdown. For either team, a victory on national television would help put itself in a position to clinch the division and allow the winning team to control its destiny for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Dec 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) rushes against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For the Cardinals (11-3), a win would clinch the division and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Right now, the Cardinals are one game ahead of the Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys (10-4).

Currently, the Cardinals own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Lions and Cowboys, and have a better conference record (8-2) than the Packers (7-3). Any of those four teams, plus the Cardinals, can get a bye, or end up as a wild-card team, either home or away because all of the divisions in the NFC are still up for grabs.

If the Cardinals beat the Seahawks, but lose to the San Francisco 49ers in week 17, while the Packers win out, both teams would be at 12-4 with the same conference record (9-3). Using ESPN’s playoff machine to determine scenarios, under that scenario, the Cardinals would own the tiebreaker because of having the better strength of victory, since Arizona and Green Bay have the same record in common games against the Seahawks, Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles (3-2).

Meanwhile, if the Seahawks win, they would not necessarily clinch the division yet but they would control their own destiny. A Seahawks win would not only put them ahead in the division, but they would own the number one seed in the NFC. All they would need was a win over the St. Louis Rams in week 17 to clinch the division and home field for good.

This Sunday is a chance for the Cardinals to make a statement in a very highly underrated rivalry with the Seahawks. The 49ers/Seahawks rivalry was known to be one of the fiercest rivalries between two rival coaches and two NFC contenders the past couple of years.

However, the Niners’ window has closed this year and now the Seahawks have beaten the 49ers five of the last six times since the Seahawks monster second half of quarterback Russell Wilson’s rookie year. Seattle had shown that once head coach Pete Carroll built the Seahawks into a contender like the 49ers, the rivalry became one-sided.

Dec 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (54) runs for yards after the catch against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

On the other hand, with a win against the Seahawks, the Cardinals would have split the series with the Seahawks in the past four seasons. The series has produced some tight results in those four years, and some of them impacted both teams.

In 2011, the Cardinals lost 13-10 at Seattle, but beat the Seahawks 23-20 in overtime when both teams were 7-8 entering the season finale.

In 2012, the Cardinals beat Seattle 20-16 in Wilson’s debut as a pro, but lost the rematch 58-0, which triggered the firing of coach Ken Whisenhunt.

In 2013, the Arizona Cardinals came flat, playing two division games in a span of five days, losing a Thursday night game 34-22, but later on in the season, ended the Seahawks’ 14-game home win streak by beating them 17-10, which extended their playoff hopes before being eliminated in week 17.

Dec 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall (28) carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at CenturyLink Field. Arizona defeated Seattle 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In 2014, the Seahawks at 6-4 defeated the 9-1 Cardinals,19-3, to keep their playoff hopes alive, in what was considered a must-win game. Now in the rematch, it is clear what is at stake for both teams.

Arizona is facing a red-hot team that many in the NFL think is starting to play its best football and who have a great shot to repeat. The Cardinals not only look to end the four-game winning streak of Seattle’s, but to set themselves in a fantastic position to achieve its ultimate goal. The Seahawks are looking to make the playoffs and vie for the same home field advantage they had last year.

With a win over the defending champions, not only would Arizona finish the regular season undefeated at home, we can officially say that the Red Birds would have a legitimate shot of being the first team to play the Super Bowl at its home stadium having own home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Arizona Cardinals V Seattle Seahawks Game Information

Who: Seahawks @ Cardinals

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

When:  Sun 12/21

Time: 6:30 MST