A look at the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks’ Week 16 opponent:
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 9-5 and third in the NFC West after Sunday’s 37-34 overtime victory against the Titans in Tennessee, the Cardinals’ sixth win in their past seven games
Playoff implications: The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win; the Cardinals, currently the No. 7 seed in the NFC, need a win to remain in the playoff picture as they try to overtake the 49ers (10-4), Saints (10-4) or Panthers (10-4) for a wild-card spot.
Where they rank: No. 19 on offense (25th rushing, 14th passing); No. 7 on defense (1st rushing, 17th passing)
TV: FOX (Q/13), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jennifer Hale
Series: Cardinals lead 15-14, but the Seahawks won 34-22 in Arizona in Week 7 and 58-0 at CenturyLink Field in Week 14 last season.
Unsung hero: Justin Bethel. The backup cornerback is having a Pro Bowl season on special teams. He has 17 coverage tackles and two blocked field goal attempts. Not bad for a sixth-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft out of Presbyterian, where he blocked nine kicks.
On the spot: Tony Jefferson. The Cardinals could start their third free safety in as many games, and it would be Jefferson, a rookie from Oklahoma. Rookie starter Tyrann Mathieu was lost for the season two games ago. He was replaced last week by Rashad Johnson, who got a high ankle sprain against the Titans. With the Cardinals’ run defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL, the Seahawks might look to throw more this week. And that would put Jefferson, well, on the spot.
Burning question: How much will Carson Palmer’s low-grade high ankle sprain affect his mobility against a Seahawks’ pass rush that sacked him seven times during a 34-22 victory in Week 7? And the Cardinals can’t target one of the Seahawks’ pass-rushers, because those seven sacks came from eight players – linemen
Familiar faces: Right guard Paul Fanaika (2010-11) backup center Mike Gibson (2009-11) played for the Seahawks, as did pro scout Josh Scobey (2005-06). Backup nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu played at the University of Washington. Running backs coach Stump Mitchell held the same position with the Seahawks (1999-2007), as did area scout Chris Culmer.
The last word: “Playing at Seattle, it’s extremely tough because of the noise and the fact they play extremely well there. So yeah, it’s a great barometer to see how far you’ve come in our division.” – Cardinals first-year coach Bruce Arians