ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 06: Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks grabs the towel of running back DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half at Cowboys Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Seahawks 23-13. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Be careful what you wish for. I might mean Russell Wilson being anointed the starting quarterback in Seattle or Kevin Kolb taking over for an injured John Skelton in the fourth quarter last Sunday. Or both.
In all fairness, I think that after the dust has settled on Week 1, we can emphatically discount the former. I wouldn't necessarily join the chorus who say that Wilson blatantly looked like a rookie in Arizona, although that's not to say that he can't be accused of (that does look a bit strong when written down) making some rookie mistakes. Heck, he is a rookie and these things are going to happen, but he still possesses something special and will win football games for the Seahawks, no matter how disconsolate we may feel right now. That we most definitely can wish for.
No, if we want to discuss somebody who personified the true identity of a rabbit in headlights on his regular season debut, then all we need do is thank the Football Gods that Brandon Weeden doesn't reside on the Seahawks' roster. Even after one game, I'd be hoping that Colt McCoy gets the nod in Week 2 if I were a Browns follower. McCoy was always the better quarterback and now we know that to be an obvious truth.
Why the interest in Cleveland here? It's because, before enduring the painful seven hours (which is what it seemed like in the final two minutes) of Seattle's defeat to the Cardinals, I had money riding on the Browns +9 at home to Philadelphia and, while emotionally it doesn't compare to watching the Seahawks, watching Weeden have to rely on his defense in order for his team to cover the spread, wasn't pretty. Ultimately, I got the result, but that doesn't help us as a community any.
One glaring irony to reflect upon after Sunday is that the quarterback who'd looked the most accomplished in the preseason didn't get it done against the quarterback who'd looked the most abject in the preseason. How Kolb pulled what he did against a defense that had slowly strangled Skelton in the second half defies logic. All logic.
If I may go back to the beginning of the game, as soon as the ball was kicked off, it felt like a big game. It felt like a playoff game and I honestly don't think that's hyperbole. I can think of so many games from last season where the atmosphere came nowhere close to what was evident on Sunday and with Jeff Fisher already looking as though he'll have the London Rams in tons better shape than last year, the NFC West will gradually inch further away from ridicule.
Before Week 1, I had Dallas pegged +2.5 for this one, but that's now been turned on its head. Our partners at Oddsshark opened the line with Seattle +2.5, but the hosts are available +3 with a plethora of online bookmakers (the entire directory is too long to list here) that includes bet365, William Hill and 32RedBet. Personally, I have the Seahawks +3.5, a line not founded in pessimism, but a healthy dose of realism with its roots firmly entrenched in an injury report that hugely favours ‘America's Team'.
Aside from quarterback, wide receiver in the Pacific Northwest had generated the most discussion throughout the offseason; quarterback may yet top the trending billboard any time soon, but that's way too soon in my opinion.
After a Sunday in the desert that saw Doug Baldwin lose his front teeth and Charly Martin remain hospitalised in Arizona having suffered a bruised lung (which barely believes thinking about), Seattle's looking a little vulnerable at receiver. Note ‘little' as it's not earth shattering...yet. Yes, Golden Tate is expected to play, but we're up against a more than useful secondary that boasts Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne at cornerback.
Left tackle Russell Okung limped out of Sunday's game with what turned out to be only a bruised knee, but he wasn't enjoying his most memorable outing before that. There's no guarantee he'll play this Sunday, but if he does he won't be able to afford any slip ups against DeMarcus Ware, arguably the NFL's most dominant, all round pass rusher. Ware notched up two sacks against the Giants and my fear is that Okung will have an ego as bruised as his knee, come Sunday evening. Look for the Seahawks to give Okung some help against Ware, something I didn't imagine myself writing before the season began.
Winning on the road in the NFL should never be underestimated and, should this be accomplished, it often translates to that team covering the spread at the same time (the Eagles failed to do both last week).
Having smashed the spread in New Jersey last week, Dallas can expect to find themselves heavily fancied to do the same this Sunday and should they repeat their Week 1 feat, that'll make them a dangerous team to bet against in future weeks. However, even though the Cowboys have had the longest week imaginable between regular season games, they have had to travel to opposite sides of the country on consecutive weeks(via Cowboy Ranch), which may account for something for those who feel the Seahawks to be good value.
As the season wears on, where a team ranks offensively and defensively becomes more and more important when considering which teams represent the most value ATS (against the spread), but it's way too early to judge any team on that, otherwise the whole world and his dog would be on the Buccaneers this week (+9 at the Giants...hmmm, that is tempting though), having surrendered only 10 yards rushing against the Panthers last week. Considering that Carolina was able to unleash DeAngelo Williams and Cam Newton on the ground makes that particular statistic the most ludicrous from Week 1 and one not to be trusted...for the moment; Tampa Bay could be playoff bound.
Likewise, as much as we may be clinging to the burgeoning euphoria of yielding only 43 yards rushing last week in defeat, it means little after one game...for the moment.
Wilson was pressured constantly by a Cardinals defense I'd underestimated and, should they perform at that level throughout the season, they'll keep Arizona in more games than I envisioned. As a point of interest (?), they're available +13.5 in New England this Sunday.
Cowboys' stud nose tackle Jay Ratliff missed last week's opener, but he certainly wasn't missed when it came to defending the run as the Giants reverted to type from 2011, cultivating only 82 yards on the ground. Should Ratliff be available this week (which is unlikely...thankfully!), Wilson can expect to see/feel as much pressure as he did last week. How he deals with that and the undoubted pressure from Ware, will determine much, but that isn't rocket science, if I'm honest with myself and the readership. In fact, if I'm honest with myself again, even without Ratliff playing, Wilson can still expect as much heat as he felt last week.
Delving a little deeper, what Wilson won't have to deal with this week is (divisional) crowd noise when lining up under center. Conversely, Cowboys QB, Tony Romo, has previous with the Seahawks faithful and, knowing him to once be vulnerable to such a cacophony in the same surroundings, can expect to find himself difficult to be heard when directing the offense at the line of scrimmage.
Should Dallas beat Seattle, they can immediately be spoken of in the same breath as New England, San Francisco and Baltimore (and it's ridiculous to discount Green Bay after one home loss, albeit to a good team) as serious threats to go all the way to the Super Bowl, the obvious reason being that not only would they be 2-0, but 2-0 on the road against perceived good teams. However, Romo won't have it so easy when looking for Kevin Ogletree this week.
It's one thing to beat up on a Giants secondary missing Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara, quite another trying to do the same against a dynamic Seahawks secondary, a secondary still smarting from Kolb picking their locks. In addition, unlike the Giants right now, Seattle's starting cornerbacks and safeties are all healthy, something to seriously consider for those leaning towards the Cowboys.
This is incredibly close to call, but, whereas I'll always advise on which games to avoid when looking at the weekly spreads around the league, I will be going out on a limb when looking at the Seahawks and always with an objective eye.
Objectively, I take the Cowboys -3. Please gamble responsibly.
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.