SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5-1)
at ARIZONA CARDINALS (3-3)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET
Line: Seattle -6.5, Total: 40
The Cardinals try to stay perfect at home when they host a one-loss Seahawks team on Thursday night.
Seattle had mixed results in its four straight games versus AFC South teams (winning big over the Jaguars, squeaking by the Texans, losing to the Colts and failing to cover in a tight win over the Titans) but has allowed only 5.0 PPG and 225 total YPG to NFC opponents this year (Panthers and 49ers). Arizona, which could be missing star WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring), gained a season-high 403 total yards in San Francisco last week, but was done in by four turnovers in a 32-20 loss. Although the Seahawks won a 58-0 laugher in the last meeting on Dec. 9 due mostly to eight Cardinals turnovers, Seattle is just 1-6 (SU and ATS) in its past seven trips to Arizona. Both teams have several positive betting trends working in their favor. The Seahawks are 13-1 ATS (93%) after gaining 6+ yards per play in their previous game over the past three seasons, while the Cardinals are just 3-11 ATS (21%) in October over the past four seasons. But Arizona is a perfect 8-0 ATS in home games under Bruce Arians and 26-9 ATS (74%) when facing a top-level team (75% win pct. or better) since 1992. Both clubs are relatively healthy, but each team will likely be without a star defensive end, with both Seattle DE Chris Clemons (elbow) and Arizona DE Calais Campbell (neck) listed as questionable.
Can the Seahawks produce a rare win and cover in Arizona? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are heating up in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 60% ATS record (27-18-2) over the past three weeks, including 69% ATS (11-5) in Week 6. StatFox Scott was a perfect 4-0 ATS in Week 6, and is 80% ATS (8-2) in the past three weeks. StatFox Gary was also a perfect 4-0 ATS in Week 6and is 73% ATS (8-3-1) over the past three weeks.
Seattle continues to steamroll opponents on the ground, averaging 158 rushing YPG (2nd in NFL) with more than 150 rushing yards in each of the past five games. Most of this damage has been done by Marshawn Lynch, who has 57 percent of his team's carries for 487 yards (4.2 YPC) and five touchdowns. Lynch has run all over the Cardinals in the past three meetings, gaining 316 yards on 5.9 YPC with three touchdowns. QB Russell Wilson is the only other Seattle player with more than 20 carries this season, scrambling for 294 yards on 5.9 YPC, but he does have to take better care of the football with five fumbles this season, three of which were lost. The Seahawks are efficient when they throw (7.8 YPA, 6th in NFL), but they have the third-fewest pass attempts in the NFL (166). Wilson has taken multiple sacks in every game this season, hitting the turf 2.8 times per game compared to 2.1 last year, but still has twice as many touchdowns (eight) as interceptions (four). Wilson is hoping that top WR Percy Harvin (hip) will return from his injury soon now that he's eligible to play, but until that happens Wilson will continue to spread the ball evenly to his top three wideouts. WR Golden Tate leads the team in catches (23), WR Doug Baldwin has the most receiving yards (344) and WR Sidney Rice is tied for the team lead with two touchdown catches. The tight ends haven't been a big factor, but starting TE Zach Miller (hamstring) is expected to return after a two-game absence. The Seattle defense has been strong this year, ranking second in the NFL in total defense (290 total YPG), second in passing defense (188 YPG), third in scoring defense (15.7 PPG), fifth in yards per play (4.7) and fifth in red zone efficiency (38.5%). The defense has been average in both stopping the run (3.9 YPC, 15th in league) and getting off the field on third downs though (37.2%, T-15th in NFL). The Seahawks have forced at least two turnovers in all six games, totaling 17 takeaways on the season (T-2nd in NFL). Miscues have been a key in this series as the Cardinals have 2+ turnovers in each of the past six meetings, totaling 21 giveaways.
Arizona's offense has been subpar this year with 322 total YPG (26th in NFL) and 18.5 PPG (25th in league), and will remain that way if top WR Larry Fitzgerald's hamstring injury forces him to be ineffective. He has produced some big games in this series with four 100-yard efforts in the past 10 meetings where he has totaled 853 yards and 5 TD. However, Fitzgerald was held to just one catch in the 58-0 drubbing last December. QB Carson Palmer is in the midst of a terrible first season in Arizona with a 69.3 passer rating (5th-worst among all qualified QBs), throwing for only seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions (2nd-most in NFL). He has gotten better protection in the past three games though with just four sacks, a big drop from the nine sacks he absorbed in the first three contests. Palmer has not been helped by a poor ground game averaging only 86 YPG (24th in NFL) on 3.8 YPC (20th in league). Leading rusher RB Rashad Mendenhall has managed just 3.3 YPC on his 79 attempts, but the emergence of rookie RB Andre Ellington (7.0 YPC on 25 attempts) has sparked some hope for the rushing offense. Ellington has increased his yards per carry in each of his six games, cranking out 56 yards on just seven carries last week. Defensively, the Cardinals have been solid all season, allowing only 5.2 yards per play (12th in NFL), including 3.5 yards per carry (4th in league). They rank among the top-10 NFL teams in both red zone efficiency (44.4%) and goal-to-go efficiency (57%). These factors have kept the points allowed to a minimum (21.2 PPG, 12th in NFL) despite being on the field for 32:02, which is the seventh longest for any NFL defense. Arizona's D has also been more opportunistic recently with nine takeaways over the past three weeks.