Times staff reporter Bob Condotta breaks down this week’s Seahawks opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.
Game time: 1:25 p.m.
TV: Fox (Ch.13).
2015 record: 13-2, first in the NFC West.
By the numbers
Arizona’s ratio of touchdowns to punts. The TDs are the most in the NFL, the punts 31st.
Arizona’s turnover ratio, third in the NFL thanks to 33 takeaways, which is second in the NFL and 14 more than the Seahawks’ total.
Years in which Arizona has won the NFC West since joining the division in 2002. Seattle has won seven, the most of any team since the realignment.
Coach: Bruce Arians.
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The series: The Cardinals lead it 17-16 after a 39-32 win in Seattle last month, the only NFC West team against which the Seahawks have a losing record. Seattle has won the past two games in Arizona, including a 35-6 victory last year in which they gained a franchise-record 596 yards.
Early line: Cardinals by 4.
QB Carson Palmer: The 2002 Heisman Trophy winner at USC under Pete Carroll, Palmer is having maybe his best NFL season at age 35. He is second in the NFL in passer rating at 106.8, behind only the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (109.3), having thrown for 4,572 yards and 34 touchdowns. Maybe the most impressive Palmer stat? The Cardinals are 26-4 in his past 30 starts.
WR Larry Fitzgerald: The 32-year-old continues to turn back the clock, recording 103 receptions, a career high, and eight touchdowns, his most since 2011. Fitzgerald has become a little more of a possession receiver, working primarily inside and averaging 11.3 yards per catch, a perfect complement to John Brown and Michael Floyd on the outside.
RB David Johnson: The rookie third-round pick from Northern Iowa has been a revelation the past month since veteran Chris Johnson was lost because of an injury, rushing for 92 or more yards in three consecutive games in early December and catching three passes for 88 yards Sunday against the Packers. He has 556 yards rushing for the season and has scored 12 touchdowns rushing and receiving.
DE Calais Campbell: The 29-year-old has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons, leading an Arizona defensive front that is one of the best in the NFL. He is coming off one of his best games, with 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss.
Arizona’s keys to success: Having already clinched the NFC West and a first-round bye, the Cardinals are playing to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs — an Arizona win and Carolina loss Sunday would get that done. And if that happens, it might give further validation to the idea that Arizona is the best team in the NFL. Better, even, than the Panthers, who were 14-0 before losing to Atlanta on Sunday. Consider that Arizona has outscored opponents by 206 points, an average of 13.7 per game. According to the New York Times, that is the third-highest margin of any team in the past 10 years, trailing only the 2007 and 2012 New England Patriots. As the Times also noted, the Cardinals have outgained opponents by 1,508 yards this season; the only other team with an edge of even 900 yards this season is the Seahawks (1,267). Though Palmer and Arizona’s passing game rightly receive a lot of attention for spearheading an offense that ranks first in the NFL in yards (420) and points (32.2) per game, the big change in the Cardinals this season has been an improved running game. Last year, Arizona was 31st in the NFL in rushing at 81.8 yards per game. The Cardinals are sixth in the NFL entering the final game, averaging 126 per game. Arizona also ranks among near the top in most defensive categories, standing sixth in yards allowed per game at 319.5 and tied for fourth in points at 18.5. Arizona had nine sacks against Green Bay on Sunday, its most in a game since 1986. Arizona had 26 sacks last season but this year has 35.