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Seahawks open as road favorites vs Cardinals in what could be their final game of the season

Seattle controlled its own fate but now needs help to make the postseason

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Week 17 was just about the most predictable week of the 2023 season, with a couple of relevant exceptions . . .

One. The Seattle Seahawks were 3-1/2 point home favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers but got run over to the tune of 202 rushing yards by a team that was averaging 110 yards on the ground heading into the game.

Two. The Arizona Cardinals were 11-point road underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles and pulled off their second major upset of the year.

Note: Their first (and biggest) one was the Week 3 upset of the Dallas Cowboys as 12-point home ‘dogs.

Other than those two games, DraftKings Sportsbook was 12-2 in the games that took place in Week 17.

Amusingly, the other two they got wrong also impact the Seahawks . . .

Draft Impact: The New Orleans Saints were 2-1/2-point underdogs on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but won.

This is relevant to Seattle because the Denver Broncos owe the Seahawks a third round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft with the pick they ship north being the latter of theirs or the Saints’ - and both teams are currently 8-8.

Playoff Impact: The Green Bay Packers were slight underdogs against the Minnesota Vikings (on the road) and absolutely trounced them (33-10).

This is relevant to Seattle because we now need the Packers to LOSE their final game of the season in order to slip into the playoffs as the 7th seed.

Sound familiar?

It should since that’s the exact same scenario that played out last year with the only exception being that last year it was the Detroit Lions that we needed to pull off an upset in Green Bay and this year it’s the Chicago Bears.

GO BEARS!

.

Alright, let’s look at what could be, but hopefully isn’t, the Seahawks’ final game of the 2023 season and see if we can determine why exactly DraftKings favors Seattle in their annual pilgrimage to the House of Horrors that is State Farm Stadium.

The simple answer is BEATS ME.

The Seahawks are coming off of a very dispiriting loss (one in which their entire defense seemingly forgot how to tackle) while the Cardinals are coming off of a win (against the defending NFC Champions) that eliminated them from the chase for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

Advantage Arizona.

The Seahawks are 3-6 against this year’s playoff teams whereas the Cardinals are 2-6. In theory, that means “Advantage Seattle”, but . . .

If we include the Steelers, who are still mathematically alive for the final spot in the AFC field, the records versus “playoff” teams flip in the Cardinals’ favor (3-7 vs. 3-6) since they beat the Stealers (24-10) and the Seahawks lost to them.

How about division games?

Seattle is currently 1-4 against the NFC West while Arizona is 0-5.

If Seattle WINS in the desert on Sunday afternoon, they’ll finish the season 2-4 against their fiercest rivals (which will be the worst division record of Pete Carroll’s tenure).

In that scenario, the Cardinals would finish the year 0-6.

But . . .

If the Seahawks LOSE then both teams finish the year 1-5 in division play. (Yuck!)

Okay, how about “common” games - aka, those teams that both teams played; i.e., the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Washington Commanders . . . ?

Both teams lost to the Ravens, although the Cardinals only lost by 7 whereas the Seahawks suffered their second-worst loss since Pete Carroll took the reins in 2010.

Surprisingly, both teams beat the Eagles.

Seattle was 3-3 in the other six games (wins against Cleveland, New York, and Washington) while the Cardinals were 2-4 (wins versus the Cowboys and Steelers).

Advantage Seattle.

FINALLY!

That can’t be why Seattle is favored though.

Not entirely at any rate.

Statistically, Seattle has a slight edge on offense with slim leads in yards per game (322.7 vs. 315.2) and points per game (21.4 vs. 19.4).

On defense, the Cardinals rank 26th league-wide in yards allowed while the Seahawks are one spot behind them at 27th.

Points allowed favors Seattle - they’re 24th at 23.9 per game; Arizona allows 27.1 points per game which is next to last.

Personally, I don’t think any of this is enough to consider the Seahawks the favorite - especially not on the road, even with a 4-game lead in the standings.

That’s probably why I don’t run a sportsbook.

Summary: The Seahawks NEED a win on Sunday! The Cardinals don’t; their season is over either way. Seattle would join Arizona on the playoff couch if they lose - OR - if they win and don’t get the “help” they need in Green Bay.

Bottom line: The season comes down to the final game (again!) and the Seahawks don’t control their own fate (again).

You’d think we’d be used to this by now.

GO HAWKS!

(and Bears!)