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It’s very likely that this game signals the end of the Russell Wilson era with the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately, he’ll be going out with a whimper and without a playoff game.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are in the midst of the Kyler Murray era, which could produce a division title this week with a Cardinals win and a Los Angeles Rams loss.
Accordingly, Arizona is laying almost a touchdown in this matchup on our NFL gameday odds. But is it worth laying that many points on the Cardinals just because of their motivation?
Let’s dig into this intriguing NFC West matchup to find out. Please note that all NFL Week 18 odds and lines are current as of 4:30 PM EST on Friday, January 7.
Seahawks vs Cardinals Prediction
The Cardinals are America’s sweetheart this season after winning their first seven games and 10 of their first 12.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks are in the dumps. Seattle’s 6-10 record is its worst since 2009, when Jim Mora coached the team to a 5-11 finish in his lone season at the helm.
That said, I believe the Seahawks are slightly undervalued in this spot.
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For starters, Seattle ranks 12th in Football Outsiders’ total DVOA and 14th in EPA per play. The Seahawks are also low in the betting market due to Wilson’s injury issues this season, but the analytics show that they’re a frisky team.
Meanwhile, there’s no reason to trust the Cardinals here. They’ve lost three of their last four games — including an embarrassing loss to the Detroit Lions — and barely beat the Dallas Cowboys last week for their lone win during that stretch.
Arizona may end up on top, but Seattle should keep things close.
Prediction: Cardinals 31, Seahawks 30
Seahawks vs Cardinals Best Bets
Best Bet: Seahawks +6.5 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
As mentioned above, I like Seattle for actual on-the-field reasons. It also helps that the historical trends back me up.
Since entering the NFL, Kliff Kingsbury is 26-20 against the spread overall. He’s just 8-13 against the spread as a favorite, however, including 4-10 against the spread as a home favorite.
Meanwhile, Wilson is 25-13 against the spread as an underdog, including 18-10 against the spread as a road dog.
Basically, fading Kingsbury as a favorite and backing Wilson as an underdog is profitable. We get to do both here for our NFL bet of the day.
Best Bet: Over 48 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.25 Units
I’m making a very small-sized play on the Over, mostly because of the Seahawks.
Seattle’s offense is competent, ranking seventh in offensive DVOA. Moreover, the Seahawks have one of the most consistent rushing attacks in the NFL, ranking fourth in rush EPA per play behind Rashaad Penny and Co.
Seattle’s defense is atrocious, however. It’s 25th in defensive DVOA and 22nd in EPA per play allowed. The Seahawks often find themselves in shootouts as a result, which explains why they’ve hit the Over in three of their past four games.
Against a potent Cardinals offense led by Murray, I expect both teams to put up a lot of points here.
Tanner McGrath’s 2021 NFL Betting Record: 20-18, +0 Units