Pete Carroll, you've made me start all over again. I had the perfect pitch for this post. Russell Wilson, as had been the case in the first two preseason games, would heed the call for the second half in Kansas City this week after Matt Flynn had hopefully impressed enough over the first two quarters, and I was going to write on how the Seahawks were the biggest of all locks this week on the handicap because of it.
Then came the curveball. It won't take the geniuses amongst you (of which there are hopefully more than the obligatory few) to work out why, but I'll hammer the point home anyway.
So incredible has Wilson looked against second and third string defences that there was no way Seattle would come unstuck against the Chiefs' depth chart cellar dwellers. His athleticism alone ranks him head and shoulders above anything and anybody he would've seen in the second half on Friday, but, no, the first real test of Wilson's versatility will come against KC's starting defense...and in a stadium not known for its hospitality towards opponents.
Our partners at oddsshark.com are giving the matchup the ‘PK' treatment. If I may be allowed to illustrate the same point as last week, for anybody who missed that post, here's another brief explanation as to what constitutes ‘PK': an abbreviation for "pick" or "pick ‘em", indicating that neither team is favoured nor the underdog, meaning the point spread is zero. Effectively, you're betting on either team from scratch.
Had Carroll proceeded with the status quo, the mere thought of backing the Seahawks from scratch this week with the certainty of Wilson picking apart a bunch of soon-to-be practice squadders (if such a word exists), or worse, is akin to receiving a nod and a wink from the croupier about which of red or black is up next. Preseason is a crapshoot for anybody willing to lay down their hard-earned, but the Seahawks have previous in victories over Tennessee and Denver with Wilson at the helm in the second half. He's been arguably the biggest talking point throughout the entire league at a time when the results of games don't matter.
The preseason is a time when It's better to be able to experiment with a modicum of success and lose games than it is to play conservative and win. The Seahawks are currently both experimenting and winning and it's proving potent. However, that whole dynamic may change this week and is why the certainty of the Seahawks covering the spread is less with Wilson starting.
There's been a steady flow of outrageously pinpoint analysis and insight on these pages this week regarding Wilson from Danny, Derek, Kenneth and Davis (and you thought BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the ultimate law firm), content and detail I doff my cap to. Suffice to say it's staggeringly good reading while also highlighting why the Seahawks can still be considered a good thing from a betting viewpoint this week. My own particular reservation boils down to Wilson facing the best Chiefs personnel possible at just about the worst time...even in the preseason.
Just last Saturday, six days removed from being embarrassed 38-3 by Indianapolis, St. Louis entertained KC, whereupon the Rams' own offensive starters promptly proceeded to play as the Colts had against them. Before the Chiefs could even wonder why the Rams had left London standing at the altar (it's OK, we're on a Jaguar rebound), they found themselves 14-0 behind in under five minutes. All the motivation Kansas City needs for this one can be found in the postgame words of coach Romeo Crennel, quotes that may find themselves dotted around the locker room.
"Well, it was not very good tonight. And that's being a little generous to say that," Crennel said. "When you're breaking camp and doing all those kinds of things, it just shows we're not mature enough yet. No one really played good."
Russell Wilson, digest all of that and expect an express of red and white all around you. Seattle's O line will have your back, but events ain't going to appear as slow as they have been of late. If they are, well, we're looking at Joe Cool Mk. II.
I'm a little nervous as to how Wilson performs, but the day was always going to come when he'd see the likes of Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers across from him. KC's pass defense was ranked 6th overall last season and that was without Berry's contribution, but you can still bet your bottom dollar that Wilson himself can't wait to get out there. His confidence will be through the roof and, allied to innate athletic ability and out-and-out dynamism, his is the must-see performance across the league this week; it'll be fascinating to see what fronts he faces from the home team.
Looking at this pragmatically, the Seahawks could, and probably should, have more luck running the ball. The Chiefs ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed per game last season (132) and, when you see what's been added on the defensive side of the ball, the patrons in Arrowhead Stadium may be seeing much of the same in 2012. Any of Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Robert Turbin could reasonably be expected to find space to run through and the relative success of the running game will naturally play into Wilson's hands anyway.
Matt Cassel is always under the microscope, it would appear, but none more so than this year. Offensively, the Chiefs look potent and he has everything he needs at his disposal, including perhaps their most important addition this offseason, running back Peyton Hillis. With the Madden curse and sense of entitlement behind him, he can settle for a role behind Jamaal Charles and without Hillis's strutting and preening from last year, Kansas City possesses an explosive rushing attack.
Cassel's been impressive thus far in the preseason, going 18-for-24 for 209 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs over two games. However, the defences in Arizona and St. Louis are far less dominant than in Seattle and if it's not overstating the fact here by saying that this is the Seahawks stiffest test so far, then the same can also be said for Kansas City.
Without tempting fate, I fully expect Flynn to put up some decent numbers in the second half. That said, Week 3 of the preseason is where teams keep their starters in for the longest amount of time (you can forget next week...that's just all about avoiding injuries and damage limitation) so Flynn may be a little handicapped in comparison to Wilson over the past two weeks. Still, Flynn doesn't need his hand held, especially knowing what he does now...the kid can play and has already won the hearts and minds of the Seattle faithful; I bet both QBs have never felt so alive.
Our anticipation for each forthcoming game has grown week on week and this is the most frenetic it'll get until the trip to Arizona in Week 1 of the regular season. The Seahawks were a no brainer with Flynn starting and I still like Seattle as the pick (PK) with Flynn finishing.
I wrote last week of the Seahawks being available with a two point start for the aforementioned road opener in Arizona, a bet that represented tremendous value. The line has been shaved slightly and Seattle can be backed +1.5 points with totesport, betfred and bwin.
In addition to contributing here, Rob runs his own blog, Rob's NFL Yard, so make sure you head over there and check out more of his work. He'll be with us all season to give all you degenerate gamblers a better look at the ever-changing NFL odds, with a focus on the Seahawks, but attention to the NFL as a whole.