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Seahawks at Cardinals
The Seahawks and Saints look to be the two teams fighting it out for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Each team is 5-1 so far, as Seattle has an opportunity to grab a half-game lead over New Orleans this week as the Saints are on the bye. The Seahawks travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in a crucial division battle that can propel Seattle to 2-0 in the NFC West with a victory.

Seattle (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS) held off Tennessee last Sunday, 20-13 as the Seahawks failed to cover as 11-point home favorites. The lone touchdown allowed by the Seahawks came on a blocked-field goal returned for a score at the end of the first half, while the Titans racked up just 223 yards of offense. Marshawn Lynch rushed for a pair of touchdowns for Seattle, as the game easily finished 'under' the total of 42. Pete Carroll's team has won 11 straight games at CenturyLink Field since the start of last season, while posting a 9-2 ATS home ledger.

The Cardinals (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS) haven't lost consecutive games yet this season, coming off last week's 32-20 defeat at San Francisco. Arizona had plenty of chances to cover as 10-point underdogs, while trailing 22-20 in the third quarter. Larry Fitzgerald fumbled inside San Francisco territory late in the third quarter, while running back Alfonso Smith fumbled to set up the 49ers field goal that put them ahead by 12 points. Arizona fell to 1-3 on the road this season, while losing 10 of its past 11 games away from University of Phoenix Stadium.

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Seattle and Arizona split a pair of meetings last season with the home team winning in dramatically different ways. The Cardinals held off the Seahawks in Russell Wilson's debut in the 2012 season opener, 20-16 as short home underdogs. Arizona's defense stiffened up in the final moments, keeping Seattle out of the end zone as the Seahawks couldn't score with three shots from the three-yard line. The victory by the Cardinals was the sixth in the last seven home meetings with the Seahawks, including three triumphs as an underdog.

The Seahawks rebounded in a huge way in the rematch at home, drilling the Cardinals, 58-0 as 10-point 'chalk' last December. Lynch torched the Arizona defense for three touchdowns, while Seattle scored two non-offensive touchdowns in a 28-point second quarter. Arizona turned the ball over eight times, while suffering its ninth consecutive loss following a 4-0 start last season (finished 5-11).

Since beating the Seahawks in Week 1 last season, the Cardinals have dropped six consecutive divisional contests, including double-digit defeats at home to the Rams and 49ers. Arizona has won each of its first two contests in Glendale this season, knocking off Detroit and Carolina as short underdogs. The Cardinals have cashed seven of their last nine opportunities in the home 'dog role since 2011, while winning seven times straight-up.

Seattle owns a 2-1 SU/ATS record as a road favorite this season, but is 0-3 SU/ATS in Carroll's tenure when laying points on the road inside the NFC West. Since 2010, the Seahawks are just 2-7 SU and 3-6 ATS against division foes on the highway, while hitting the 'under' in all three road divisional contests last season.

VegasInsider.com handicapper Antony Dinero says there is value in the home 'dog, "There is a more confident vibe from the Cardinals with Carson Palmer at the controls, giving them a puncher's chance at pulling off a home upset. With guys being reminded all week that the Seahawks won 58-0 the last time these teams met on a football field, Arizona will have the pride factor in its corner, not to mention a partisan crowd in a nationally-televised weeknight game. It's going to boil down to how effective Palmer can be against the NFL's top secondary, but some of these Cards have plenty of fight in them. Remember, Arizona beat Detroit by four touchdowns last December one week after catching Seattle's epic beatdown."

Since last November, the Cardinals are 5-0 ATS off an ATS defeat, while posting a profitable 8-5 ATS record over the last 13 regular season contests. The Seahawks have been one of the top teams to back in this same span by going 10-3 ATS the past 13 games (including two postseason contests), even though Seattle has failed to cover in the last two weeks against Indianapolis and Tennessee.

The Seahawks are listed as 6 ½-point road favorites, the longest number on the highway for Seattle since laying 7 ½ in a 13-10 loss at Carolina in 2007. The total for Thursday's contest is set at 40 ½, as the Seahawks are 2-1 to the 'over' on totals closing at 42 or below. The game can be seen nationally on NFL Network with an 8:25 PM EST kickoff from University of Phoenix Stadium.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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