If I were a betting man, I would find a way to jump on the back of Usain Bolt and run away as fast and as far as possible from wagering on the Seahawks-Cardinals game Sunday.
Since the teams’ hopes for success depend heavily on premier quarterbacks recovering from injuries, any wise guy who says he believes he knows what’s going on with Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray probably also believes Aaron Rodgers when he says he has “immunized” himself against covid with a homespun recipe of wombat entrails and rusty nails.
The 8-2 Cardinals are favored by 2.5 points over the Loo-standing Seahawks (3-6), but any deviance from a pick’em wager should be summarily dismissed.
Murray missed a second consecutive game Sunday with a sprained ankle and the Cardinals lost at home 34-10 to Carolina, which dredged up QB Cam Newton from the career crypt for a brief but effective cameo appearance.
Wilson returned from a month-long injury layoff and, for the first time his career, was shut out, the Seahawks losing in Green Bay 17-0.
Division-related, the 49ers Monday night dominated the Rams, 31-10. That means three NFC West teams lost by a cumulative 62 points.
Remember the naive days of early September, when the division was regarded as a sort of Marvel Comics collection of superheroes come to life? Not so much now.
Who in September foresaw Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo astride the 4-5 Niners colossus?
Think about it: He handed off the ball brilliantly 44 times, and SF gained 156 rushing yards, leaving the Rams with not enough time to boil an egg, much less win a football game.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll must have dusted off a grin unused since the halcyon days of Beast Mode. Not only was it his ideal style of triumph, the win was the Niners’ fifth in a row over the Rams, who have been bullying the Seahawks out of their lunch money for years now.
“(The Rams) are fired up about their pass rush with the new guys (principally Von Miller), but (the 49ers) didn’t give them much of a chance,” Carroll said at his Wednesday presser. “They were really committed on not letting the Rams’ pass rush in. They have had a good feel for playing the Rams.
“You have to give a lot of credit to (coach Kyle Shanahan) and the staff. That is a really good Rams team, and they had a big-time game against them in all phases. The running game really stood out.”
Shanahan said the goal pre-game was 40 rushes, and ended up with the club’s most attempts in nine years: “I almost regretted it because it’s tough to do. I’m glad I set it. We came through with it. It’s a huge team goal.”
The upshot of the weekend’s developments is that nobody knows anything about the outcome of the NFC West. Which, if you’re a Seahawks fan, is about the only light in the bleakness.
The Rams have lost two in a row. The Cardinals started 7-0, but have lost two of three and seem to be as reliant on Murray as the Seahawks are on Wilson. Yet that doesn’t fully account for how bad they looked Sunday.
“I thought (the Panthers) played harder, they played faster and had a great plan in all three phases and just really beat us up,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. Also absent star WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona had a feeble 169 yards of offense. Backup QB Colt McCoy, who was 11 for 20 for 107 yards with an interception, also was hurt, forcing the Cardinals to use third-stringer Chris Streveler.
As of Wednesday, Murray and McCoy were listed as limited in practice. Kingsbury said Murray’s participation is likely a game-time decision.
Meanwhile, in Renton, circumstances are different. Wilson is all but certain to play, but how well is anyone’s guess.
He and Carroll were optimistic heading into Green Bay, and Wilson’s first game after finger surgery was one of the worst of his career — 20 of 40 passing for 166 yards and two end-zone interceptions.
Because he can’t help himself, again Wednesday, Carroll was upbeat about Wilson.
“He feels fine; he threw the ball really well in the walk-through today, so after the first full week, he came out of it in good shape,” he said. “He’s moving on. He’s still taking care of himself. He is progressing, because it’s only Week 6. He felt really good about it.”
Sunday could be Wilson’s get-right game. Or it could be another stay-wrong game.
Since Carroll had nothing to offer Wednesday on whether RB Chris Carson’s injured neck will allow him to return to play, it doesn’t sound as if help is coming that was any different from the gruesome trudge at Lambeau Field.
Given Murray’s potential limitations, we could hear an echo of one of the most notoriously wretched games in the series between the teams — the 6-6 overtime tie in 2016 in which each kicker missed an easy game-winning field goal in OT.
The offensive ineptitude was historic. Not only was it the first and only tie in Seahawks history, it was the first game in NFL history back to 1940 that went to OT and didn’t have a touchdown.
Not saying here that such an outcome will happen again. But in the 2021 NFC West, there is a shaving-cream pie waiting around every corner. Sometimes in both directions.