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Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, centre, pulls in the game winning touchdown pass as Buffalo Bills free safety Jordan Poyer, left, and strong safety Micah Hyde defend on Nov. 15, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 32-30.

The Associated Press

There is a word that has become taboo in NFL circles in the Pacific Northwest and in the Valley of the Sun.

Defence.

Sure, Seattle has an established megastar in quarterback Russell Wilson and a budding one in receiver DK Metcalf. And yes, the Cardinals have the reverse in QB Kyler Murray throwing prayers to – and having them answered – by veteran DeAndre Hopkins. What neither of these NFC West leaders (along with the Rams, all 6-3) possesses is enough defence.

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Which means Thursday’s night prime-timer should be filled with points that are pleasing to the eye, and defence viewers want to turn away from watching.

The Seahawks rank dead last against the pass, with the Cardinals at the top of the list as a passing threat. And while Arizona is middle of the pack in many defensive statistics, the offence much of the time has to bail out the D.

So yes, both units tend to be Legions of Doom.

This is an absolutely critical contest for both teams in the NFL’s best division. The West members manage to beat up on each other, which could cost all of them the single conference bye in the playoffs. Seattle already lost at Arizona last month, in overtime, and also has fallen to the Rams.

Seattle, No. 13 in the AP Pro32, is a three-point choice over No. 9 Arizona

Upset special: CARDINALS, 35-30

Knockout pool: Pro Picks moved along with its selection of Tampa Bay and now tries the VIKINGS.

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No. 17 New England (minus 2 1/2) at No. 28 Houston

We’re still not buying the Patriots as a contender, but they should handle the Texans.

Best bet: PATRIOTS, 23-16

No. 1 Pittsburgh (minus 9) at No. 31 Jacksonville

The Steelers don’t always play their best in Northern Florida. They don’t need their best this time.

STEELERS, 26-13

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No. 4 Green Bay (plus 1 1/2) at No. 11 Indianapolis

If the Colts win, we need to take them seriously as a contender.

COLTS, 26-24

No. 2 Kansas City (minus 6) at No. 10 Las Vegas

If the Raiders win, we need to take them seriously as a contender, too.

CHIEFS, 30-20

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No. 14 Tennessee (plus 6 1/2) at No. 7 Baltimore

These two should be contenders. Should be.

RAVENS, 20-19

No. 12 Miami (minus 3) at No. 25 Denver

Miami is showing impressive consistency, while Denver is the exact opposite.

DOLPHINS, 21-13

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No. 8 Los Angeles Rams (plus 4) at No. 5 Tampa Bay, Monday night

Bruce Arians is worried about his aged quarterback staying up late to play games.

RAMS, 26-24

No. 30 Dallas (plus 7) at No. 16 Minnesota

Take an NFC Least team against a non-division opponent? No way.

VIKINGS, 24-20

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No. 21 Philadelphia (OFF) at No. 15 Cleveland

Take an NFC Least team against a non-division opponent? No way.

BROWNS, 27-17

No. 27 Cincinnati (pick-em) at No. 29 Washington

Take an NFC Least team against a non-division opponent? No way.

BENGALS, 28-23

No. 32 New York Jets (plus 9) at No. 26 Los Angeles Chargers

The Jets belong in the NFC Least – where they would be last, too.

CHARGERS, 34-23

No. 20 Atlanta (OFF) at No. 3 New Orleans

This will be no breeze for the Saints without Drew Brees.

SAINTS, 23-21

No. 23 Detroit (OFF) at No. 22 Carolina

The Lions actually could reach .500 with a win. So …

LIONS, 20-16

___

2020 RECORD

Last week: Straight up: 10-4. Against spread: 5-5-2

Season: Straight up: 98-48-1. Against spread: 75-63-4

Best bet: Straight up: 9-1. Against spread: 7-3

Upset special: Straight up: 4-6. Against spread: 4-4-2

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