Seahawks Hope to Remain Number Two Against Cardinals

The Seahawks eliminated the Arizona Cardinals from playoff contention Thursday when they beat the Rams. Can they remain the NFC’s two-seed against Arizona on Christmas Eve?

The Cardinals don’t have anything to play for this season, other than knocking off their rivals to the North at CenturyLink Field Saturday.

Arizona has endured one of the worst injury slates in the league this year, contributing to their most disappointing season under head coach Bruce Arians. Safeties Deone Bucannon and Tyvon Branch are on Injured Reserve. Tyrann Mathieu is hindered by a leg injury that made him a step slow against the New Orleans Saints last week, but he is expected to play.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer hasn’t been as sharp as he was last year. His numbers are down in almost every category, dropping from a league-high 82.15 QBR to a 51.2 QBR this year. He’s missing one of his top targets, wide receiver Michael Floyd, who was released by Arizona after being arrested and charged of DUI with a BAC of .217 on December 12th. The beleaguered Palmer will be haunted again by the Seahawks‘ front seven, which held the Cards in check during their 6-6 tie earlier this year.

The Cardinals, of course, manhandled the Seahawks offensive line in their last meeting, singlehandedly shutting down the entire offense at times. Perhaps in anticipation of another bloodbath against Arizona, Pete Carroll and Tom Cable are putting Garry Gilliam back into the starting lineup at right tackle, beating out Bradley Sowell. Gilliam was a healthy inactive for the Carolina and Green Bay games, but was seen replacing Sowell late in the Rams game.

George Fant now has free reign over the left tackle position, for better or for worse. He apparently has instilled more confidence protecting Russell Wilson‘s blind side than both Sowell and Gilliam.

If the Seahawks win and the Detroit Lions or the Atlanta Falcons lose, they clinch a first-round bye and the number two seed in the NFC. The game is at 1:25 Saturday on Fox.