*My London roots, or rather my accent, were the cause of a very minor discussion in the comments section below my article last week as, of course, nobody on the other side of the pond knows what I sound like. Believe me, you're the lucky ones and I only mention this as I'm guessing London is receiving a healthy dose of coverage in the States this week with the Steelers and Vikings over here; actually, maybe I'm wrong and only Pittsburgh and Minnesota are being fed a London diet. I'll let you let me in on that.
*I've never actually left (unless a year in Australia counts) so there's been no real odyssey that resulted in me going back to my roots.
No offence to the team that I should, as a Londoner, be cradling to my bosom, but I'm thankful that the Jacksonville Jaguars were duly swatted aside last week and we can get back to some real competition for the rest of the season. Yes, that is conceited, but it was a game the Seahawks should never have had trouble overcoming and they didn't. They did what was expected and now comes the not so expected. This is why sport reels you in. No final page ‘the butler did it' or James Bond ‘licence to kill, but never the killed' expectedness. No, we crave pure, unadulterated unexpectedness and can now revert back to turning the page with trepidation. It's difficult to surpass watching the Seahawks win a game you didn't enjoy a single second of, bar the winning point(s) being scored and finally, finally, the expiration of the clock.
I advocated backing the Jaguars +19.5 points last week and not without sound reasoning. Before last Sunday, teams favoured by 20 points or more (or 19.5 for argument's sake) since 1985 were 1-8 ATS. Seattle was up against a sizeable slice of history and simply made a mockery of it.
I wrote last week of some extremely tenuous links between the Seahawks and Jaguars and should probably offer up an apology or two if I'm honest, but Seattle and Houston do actually share some genuine common ground as 2002 saw a rebirth and a birth for the Seahawks and Texans respectively. Technically, 2002 was a rebirth for Houston pro football, but these Texans were the newest of the NFL's 32 franchises, yet to take their first step. As it transpired, when right foot first followed left, they shocked their inter-state rival Dallas Cowboys, 19-10. That was quite something, as were the headlines that followed. David Carr couldn't fail to deliver. What could possibly go wrong? Aaron Curry, over to you for the history lesson...
Seattle's 2002 saw a return to the NFC West, although I found this to be a testing time, lamenting as I was the sudden and sad loss of rivalries with the Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders. My initiation to this sport and the Seahawks was all about the AFC West. Not anymore, but, as strong as the Rams were when the Seahawks were building new rivalries during the early to mid-noughties, you always suspected that it was going to be the 49ers who'd ultimately prove to be the natural nemesis. It seemed inexorable and the ticking of the clock didn't disappoint. Helping speed the rivalry along, apart from Messrs. Carroll and (Jim) Harbaugh, is the presence of two of the brightest young quarterbacks in the league, although the feeling exists that Russell Wilson doesn't and won't embrace fear when on the road in San Francisco. Ever.
In conjunction with switching conferences in 2002, the Seahawks also opened a brand new stadium to replace the Kingdome (after playing at Husky Stadium in 2001 and 2001). Not content with that, new uniforms were introduced and not only was I having to cope with not seeing us play in the AFC West, but Seattle had also dispensed with the silver helmet. This took some getting used to. Yeah, I still miss you.
Through ten-and-a-half quarters this season, the Seahawks had given up just 10 points. Then the starters were pulled and Jacksonville's offense looked Championship Game calibre. Was I hoping for the back door cover? Of course I was. I don't bet for fun. As long as Seattle wins, I'm always happy, but if they win and I'm on the opposition to cover and both outcomes, er...come out, then my weekend just got a mite better. I wish I was so lavish so as not to give a monkey's where my pound goes.
Even at this early stage of the season, it's old news that the Seahawks possess a beast of a defense. Same as last season and, barring catastrophic injuries, same as next season. Struggling to escape a Pink Floyd lyric here, when (chronologically) Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K. J. Wright and Richard Sherman were initially drafted, supplementing Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons up front, don't tell me that John Schneider and Pete Carroll weren't humming along to, ‘...it's a hell of a start, it could be made into a monster if we all pull together as a team.'
It only went and happened and life imitated art, as is often the case. The Seahawks and the Floyd joined at the hip (at least in my world)? Too good, way too good.
It's not all bad that Jacksonville was given the opportunity to score some late points last week. Having held Carolina and San Francisco to single digit scores over the first two weeks of the season, the same was definitely expected among the players last Sunday. Richard Sherman was "disappointed...to give up that many yards, that many points (to the Jags)" while immediately after the game, Kam Chancellor didn't "...feel that happy right now. I still think it's too many yards and we hold ourselves to a higher standard. You can ask anybody that and they'll say the same thing, that's too many yards."
A defense smarting, having given up 17 points at home to the worst team in the league, is, in my opinion, the ideal preparation for the toughest road game of the season so far, albeit on just the fourth Sunday. That said, it isn't with the defense where the concern lies right now.
J. J. Watt must be licking his chops at the prospect of lining up opposite Michael Bowie should Breno Giacomini not be able to play. He may be licking his chops anyway at the prospect of lining up opposite Giacomini, if we're honest with ourselves. He probably is. The odds on Russ having to make plays with his feet look pretty much unbackable and yes, of course that's a real word. If not, it should be as it rolls off the tongue beautifully.
For a game that promises to be close, the line on offer is certainly varied with punters able to back Seattle -1 and/or Houston +3. Backing the Seahawks as a road favourite last season wasn't a pleasant experience as they went 1-3 ATS when expected to triumph away from the CLink during the regular season. However, including the playoffs last year, they're 5-0 ATS on the road in their last five outings.
For those of a Texans persuasion, a three point start is attractive, especially at home and especially with a salivating Watt looking to terrorise a weakened Seattle offensive line. For what it's worth though, let's not forget that these Seahawks are an elite bunch and when coupled with the fact that the Texans are an abysmal 1-6 ATS over their last seven games (including going 0-3 ATS this season), they suddenly become a far less attractive betting proposition. One crumb of comfort for those still wishing to back the home team here is that they are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 home games.
Despite serious reservations over the protection Wilson will be afforded at quarterback and even Marshawn Lynch's ability to gain easy yards against a tough Texans run defense, I'm taking the Seahawks to overcome a 1 point handicap. What I'm really all over though, is the Under at 41.5. That looks way too high.
Please gamble responsibly.