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Originally published December 26, 2011 at 7:42 PM | Page modified December 27, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Out of playoff possibilities, Seahawks seek strong finish in season finale

The Seahawks' regular-season finale in Arizona on Sunday will be the first game they have played under coach Pete Carroll that is utterly...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seahawks @ Arizona, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — The Seahawks' regular-season finale in Arizona on Sunday will be the first game they have played under coach Pete Carroll that is utterly irrelevant for the postseason.

Carroll wouldn't call it meaningless, though.

"We want to win a football game," Carroll said. "There's no hesitation, there's no other agenda at all other than to win a football game."

Are there draft considerations? Sure. The Seahawks are one of 13 NFL teams that currently hold six, seven or eight victories. Seattle's first-round pick could wind up just about anywhere in the teens depending on what happens Sunday.

Then there's the consideration of getting a chance to evaluate some of the younger prospects on the roster. Say, perhaps, a certain third-string rookie quarterback like Josh Portis, who hasn't played since the exhibition season.

But Carroll insisted Monday he isn't looking down the road four months to the draft let alone considering evaluating the lower tiers of the depth chart.

"To look at something for the future is not what's in our minds at all," Carroll said. "We want to come back and play another good game of football."

The winner of Sunday's game in Arizona will finish in second place in the NFC West. Stop snickering. That's actually an accomplishment this year.

The Seahawks won the division title at 7-9 in 2010. This year, that record merits third place with no parting gift. The four NFC teams went a downright respectable 18-22 when playing outside the division in 2011, and they will finish with their second-best collective winning percentage since the league realigned in 2002.

Not only that, but the Seahawks and Cardinals have been two of the league's hottest teams in the second half of the season.

Seattle has won five of its past seven games with a running game that has been born again. The Cardinals have won six of their past eight behind a defense that somehow found a backbone for the second half of the year. Arizona allowed more than 20 points in six of its first seven games this season and started 1-7. The Cardinals have given up more than 20 points only twice since then.

Neither team could rally its way into the playoffs, but the winner on Sunday will avoid a losing record.

"It would be great to get to 8-8 and leave them out of it," Carroll said. "They want the same thing."

Both the Cardinals and Seahawks saw their playoff possibilities vanish in Week 16. Ending the season on a high note is as big as the stakes will get in the regular-season finale, but Carroll insisted that's plenty of incentive.

"We're going to try to finish the year out the way we've set a pace now," Carroll said.

Notes

• WR Ben Obomanu suffered a sprained knee in the fourth quarter Saturday. He hasn't been ruled out, but his status is uncertain.

• RB Marshawn Lynch has a sore ankle, according to Carroll. Lynch came back to the bench limping after his 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but returned to finish the game.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @dannyoneil.

NFC West no longer worst
Last year, a 7-9 record won the division. This year, that merits only third place. Not only that, but the four NFC West teams went 18-22 outside the division, the division's second-highest winning percentage against the rest of the NFL going back to 2002.
Year Record outside the division
2003 21-19 (.525)
2011 18-22 (.450)
2006 17-23 (.425)
2005 16-24 (.400)
2002 16-24 (.400)

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