The Seattle Seahawks crushing the Arizona Cardinals 35-6 doesn’t prevent them from making the playoff, but it did give the NFL another example of just how good the defending Super Bowl champions are right now. Not just defensively, which has been their better half for most of this season but maybe finally offensively as well.
The Cardinals have a very good defense, but with the quarterback combination of Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas playing behind center, it’s not surprising to see their defensive unit crumble at some point, staying on the field for too long and not getting any rest between possessions, as the three-and-outs came quickly and were plentiful. The Cardinals got nothing from their running game as well, finishing with 29 yards on 15 carries, which means a lot to work on before the playoffs begin.
Russell Wilson completed 20-of-31 passes, throwing a couple of touchdown passes and for 339 yards. He also ran for 88 on six carries, also scoring a touchdown, becoming the second player in NFL history along with Michael Vick to have multiple games of over 300 passing yards and 80 rushing yards. Wilson got 81 of his yards through scrambles, like most of his rushing yards, and is the only quarterback to gain over 500 rushing yards through scrambles.
But the heart of the Seahawks offense is Marshawn Lynch, who might be gone very soon. He is playing behind an offensive line that has declined, but can still run-block very well, allowing him to finish with 113 yards on only 10 carries, scoring a couple of touchdowns. The Seahawks have a historically good defense, but that’s not the only thing going their way. They have the ability to grind the game on the ground maybe better than anyone else in the NFL, and will base their Super Bowl run on that advantage once again.
The Cardinals are in the playoff for the first time in five seasons, despite the horrific loss and their miserable quarterback situation. Their defense actually held out pretty well until the fourth quarter, but with Lindley (18-of-44 and one interception) as their quarterback, it’s hard to believe that this thing can last more than one game, and their exit will be after playing in the wild card game. The Cardinals had a very nice season following a 10-win 2013, but without some changes on offense which includes establishing a running game and getting some luck to the quarterback injuries, they’ll remain behind the flock of contenders.
Since losing to the Chiefs 24-20 in week 11, the Seahawks have turned their defense into something out of this world. They’ve given up more than 7 points only once, and that was in Philadelphia against the Eagles’ fast-paced offense, also limited to 14 points. In the five consecutive wins that have taken them once again to the top of the NFC West and the top of the conference standings, they’ve allowed an average of just 6.6 points per game. Hard not to call them the best team in the NFL right now, especially with their offense heating up.
The Seahawks getting home field advantage means the world to them, after losing three times on the road this season. Who can beat them in Seattle? Any team that can force them to stop their regular running game. The Cowboys made it happen with great clock management, a super receiver in Dez Bryant and winning the battles in the trenches. The blueprint to knocking off Seattle is there, but actually executing it is a very different story.