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Cardinals Prepare For "Playoff" Game In Seattle

Seahawks need win and Falcons' loss; Cards want to spoil those chances

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Cardinals defensive lineman Frostee Rucker celebrates a defensive stop during Sunday's win over the Giants.

The Cardinals were officially eliminated from the postseason in Washington in Week 15, but a game against the NFC West rival Seahawks to close out the season New Year's Eve still carries significance – not only to the Seahawks, but to the Cards.

"It's Christmas, and the way this season has been a roller coaster for us, we'll take this one," defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said after the Cardinals shut out the Giants. "Next week is even bigger.

"Despite the noise and the distraction that we're not going to the playoffs, they are still fighting to get in."

The Seahawks (9-6) are trying desperately to keep their postseason streak alive and still have an opportunity

to reach the playoffs as the NFC's sixth and final seed. But to get in, Seattle not only has to beat Arizona, but has to hope the Atlanta Falcons lose at home against Carolina.

The Falcons win, and the Seahawks are out no matter what happens. The NFL moved the Falcons-Panthers kickoff – along with all the playoff-related games next week – to 2:25 p.m. Arizona time to coincide with the Cardinals-Seahawks kickoff and make sure the teams all have something for which to play.

That's usually not a problem with the Cardinals and Seahawks anyway. It's certainly not a problem for the Cards, who have a chance to finish at .500.

But, Rucker said, Sunday would be "more about just beating (the Seahawks)."

"Being .500 does send the year out not on a negative note -- we'd be at least dead even," Rucker said. "This group of men is so talented, I hope they don't break it up. You can read what's going on in the paper, [what

(GM) Steve (Keim) said](http://www.azcardinals.com/news-and-events/article-2/GM-Steve-Keim-We-Have-A-Lot-Of-Work-To-Do/43a3c3ba-be96-4896-bcc4-5aa1bb09c36d), but across the board, even with all our injuries, we have a group of guys in there that are fighters. I just hope everyone gets a shot to come back (in 2018)."

The Cards still aren't playing great on offense, although they snapped their touchdown drought against the Giants with a pair of Drew Stanton TD passes, along with a fumble return for a score by defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche.

Since Week 10 the Cardinals are No. 1 in the NFL in total defense, and punctuated that surge with the franchise's first shutout since 1992.

"I just wish we definitely could play like that year long," cornerback Patrick Peterson said.

Had the Cardinals been able to be more consistent, the game in Seattle might have been for their own postseason spot. Instead, it's about being a spoiler, at a place that coach Bruce Arians has posted a 3-1 record since becoming the Cardinals' coach – an impressive mark, given how dominant the Seahawks are at home.

"There's our playoff game," Rucker said. "All or nothing, right?"

Images from the Christmas Eve game in Seattle


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