Glendale, AZ - The Arizona Cardinals are preparing to make their first postseason appearance in a decade, but haven't looked much like a playoff-bound team lately.
It's gotten so bad, coach Ken Whisenhunt vowed to make changes if he feels players aren't performing up to their capabilities.
In Sunday's regular-season finale, the NFC West-champion Cardinals (8-7) try to break out of their late-season funk and head into the postseason on a winning note when they host Seattle (4-11) in Mike Holmgren's final game as Seahawks coach.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Cardinals –6 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game against the Bills. Current NFL Public Betting Information shows that 78% of more than 3,989 bets for this game have been placed on the Cardinals –6.
With a 26-20 victory over Seattle on Nov. 16, Arizona improved to 7-3 and looked like a legitimate threat to make a run for the NFC championship. Very little has gone right for the Cardinals since, and they could end up in the postseason with a .500 record.
Arizona has lost four of its last five with the only victory coming on Dec. 7 against St. Louis, which has the second-worst record in the NFC. Since clinching the weak West with their 34-10 win over the Rams - the franchise's first division title since 1975 when they played in St. Louis, and first playoff berth since 1998 - the Cardinals have been outscored 82-21 in losing their last two games.
Arizona boasts the fourth-best scoring offense in the league at 26.2 points per game, but managed a season-low 186 total yards in a 47-7 loss last Sunday at snowy New England. The Cardinals had just four first downs and 45 total yards through three quarters, and Pro Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner was replaced in the third by Matt Leinart.
Warner threw for 4,290 yards and 26 touchdowns through his first 14 games, but finished 6-of-18 for 30 yards against the Patriots.
"We haven't done anything yet," said Warner, who was 32-of-44 for 395 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Seahawks in November. "We've got to pick it up and get past that now and say, 'There is more in front of us.' If we want to take a chance, let's take it.
If we're happy with winning a division, then I guess that's all we'll do this year. Hopefully we get our mind set on doing more than that and not just getting into the playoffs, but doing something."
Arizona's defense has always been vulnerable, as ranks 29th with 27.0 ppg, but lately its been almost nonexistent. It allowed an opponent season-high 514 yards last Sunday, and has yielded an average of 41.8 points in its last four losses.
"It's all about execution,'' free safety Antrel Rolle said, "It's embarrassing. It's nothing we can brush off our shoulder.''
Whisenhunt has been so disgusted, he said he's considering replacing certain players, regardless of how prominent their position is. He wouldn't name names, but said some have already been informed.
"We've got a few guys that need to pick up their game," Whisenhunt said. "If they don't, they'll be some other guys playing. We're going to be a playoff game no matter what happens, and I think the most important thing for our team is we play well and establish confidence this week."
The Cardinals will try to turn things around against a Seattle team that's won its last two games after starting the season just 2-11.
In Holmgren's final game at Qwest Field, the Seahawks defeated the Jets 13-3 last Sunday to knock New York out of first place in the AFC East. Holmgren took a victory lap through the snow after the victory.
"Pretty special. I'll never forget this day,'' Holmgren said.
After leading Seattle to six playoff trips and the last four NFC West titles, Holmgren will end his 10-year stint as Seahawks coach on Sunday and will take a sabbatical from football in 2009.
"I hope you remember these last few weeks of this season, and piggyback it into next year," Holmgren told his team after beating New York. "This team has a lot of character, a lot of pride and good players on it."
Holmgren will most likely be without Matt Hasselbeck on Sunday for the eighth time this season, as the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is still weakened by a bulging disk in his back.
Seneca Wallace is expected to make his eighth start after completing 18 of 25 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. He has thrown for 1,189 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in his last six starts.
The Cardinals have won three of four over the Seahawks after losing seven of the eight previous meetings.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
ARIZONA is 8-8 against the spread versus SEATTLE since 1992
SEATTLE is 9-7 straight up against ARIZONA since 1992
9 of 16 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
ARIZONA is 3-2 against the spread versus SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons
ARIZONA is 3-2 straight up against SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons
3 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at ARIZONA since 1992
ARIZONA is 4-3 against the spread versus SEATTLE since 1992
ARIZONA is 4-3 straight up against SEATTLE since 1992
4 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at ARIZONA over the last 3 seasons.
ARIZONA is 2-0 against the spread versus SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons
ARIZONA is 2-0 straight up against SEATTLE over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
(!) [QB] Matt Hasselbeck missed last game, doubtful - Back - 12/14/08
[C] Chris Spencer IR - Back - 12/03/08
[DE] Patrick Kerney IR - Shoulder - 10/29/08
[DT] Red Bryant missed last game, "?" - Ankle - 12/14/08
[FS] Jordan Babineaux injured last game, "?" - Concussion - 12/15/08
[LB] Leroy Hill missed last game, "?" - Stinger - 12/14/08
[LB] Wesley Mallard IR. - Knee - 08/06/08
[OG] Mike Wahle IR - Shoulder - 12/05/08
[OL] Walter Jones IR - Knee - 12/12/08
[OT] Sean Locklear injured last game, doubtful - Toe - 12/16/08
[RG] Rob Sims IR - Pectoral - 09/09/08
[WR] Ben Obomanu IR - Shoulder - 08/31/08
[WR] Logan Payne IR - Knee - 09/15/08
[WR] Nate Burleson IR - Knee - 09/08/08
[LB] Ali Highsmith IR - Knee - 11/03/08
[LB] Clark Haggans expected to miss at least 2 weeks - Foot - 12/15/08
[LB] Pago Togafau missed last game, "?" - Knee - 12/14/08
Posted: 12/24/08 11:14AM ET