Last Sunday was the biggest letdown since Atlanta in January. Not as big a letdown, no, but it brought us all crashing down to earth nonetheless. Crashing? We glided, let's say. The signs were there, though.
The first half in Houston a week prior to that indicated road fragilities and three particular statistics stand out from last Sunday, one of which should never have contributed to a loss for a team this strong. Looking at that one first, Seattle had two 100 yard rushers against the Colts, Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson and, along with Robert Turbin's 14 yards on four carries, they helped the Seahawks amass 218 yards on the ground.
It won't be often, or never again in the current incarnation of this football team, that Lynch and Wilson will contribute 204 rushing yards on the road (at 6.8 YPC between them) and fly home carrying an L on their shoulders. That really bothered me, but, in the bigger picture, it's an anomaly.
More than really bothering me was the fact that, after dominating Indianapolis for almost the entire first quarter, Seattle was outscored 34-16 throughout the rest of the game and this after they led 12-0 with the ball back in their hands after the Colts had to free kick it back after the safety. Even at that very early stage of proceedings, I honestly couldn't see the Seahawks losing; they were on a momentous roll after the fourth quarter and overtime in Houston. I never, ever learn. Such is the life of being a Seahawks fan, but, as those of you who read this regularly know, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I do realise that you know what happened last Sunday, but this is my weekly opportunity to bash out a few observations before thoughts turn to events this week.
The third statistic I was going to mention from last Sunday was Seattle going 2-12 on third down (5-26 over the last two weeks). However, Davis has done that topic a thousand percent more justice than I ever could already on Field Gulls this week so I'm pulling the blanket gently up over that one.
Something I will admit to not noticing last week during the ebb and flow of what was a quite wonderful game of football between two bright young teams was Lynch's reduced work during the second half. He carried 11 times for 76 yards during the first half, six times for 26 yards during the second.
I've supported (and still do) some sorry looking sports teams down the years and many has been the time when I've screamed for change before a season goes down the swanny or relegation to a lower division looms ever closer. The scream has often come long before any actual action was taken and, as I wrote during my Seahawks/Jaguars preview, it's because sometimes we, the fans, do actually know more than the guys running our team.
When times are good, when there seems no end to the glorious salad days we're immersed in, like when Lynch can rush for 76 yards on 11 carries in one half on the road against a playoff contender, carrying, with Russ, this offense like an Olympic torch, why change it? It's possible to outthink oneself and this lends itself to football possibly more than any other sport. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
As dispiriting as losing to Indianapolis was, it mustn't be forgotten what a ridiculously formidable team the Colts are at home, something I touched upon last week when looking at their form ATS. Here's what I wrote: ‘For those tempted (to back the Seahawks -1), you will have to bear in mind that you face a formidable foe this week. Quite incredibly, on the last six occasions that the Colts have been a home underdog, they've not only covered the spread, they've won straight up on each occasion.'
So, that streak now extends to seven and is something I'm going to keep watch of as it's seriously, seriously impressive. It also helps me to add some perspective. Things are still very good with Seattle football right now.
Will the Seahawks right the ship this week? Of course they will. They're at home. Will they cover the spread? Maybe not. Cutting out the middle man here, Tennessee can be backed +13.5 points (Skybet, Ladbrokes and 32Red are amongst the flurry I could mention) while Seattle need to overcome 12.5 points with Boylesports and Paddy Power...the gem that is Paddy Power, I hasten to add.
If the Seahawks were up against some solid Colts home form last week, then the Titans find themselves in an equally compromising situation this week. OK, here's the rub: Seattle is 12-1 ATS in its last 13 home games and 5-1 ATS in its last six as a home favourite. More pertinently, and gleaned straight from our partners at oddsshark, is that the Seahawks are 10-3-1 in its last fourteen outings as a double digit favourite. That's the kinda stuff you wanna hear. However, two reasons exist for those seeking encouragement that Seattle won't automatically bounce back from last week, at least not to the tune of winning by fourteen.
As measly as it is to go by just two road games this season, Tennessee is 2-0 on the road ATS, covering in both Pittsburgh and Houston as the underdog. Look at them, they won't have any trouble going into the CLink this week against a rabid 12th Man baying for revenge. And it's not even a revenge they want on the Titans, bless them. They don't even have the small prayer to cling to that the home crowd may take it a little easier on the visitors on Sunday with the presence of local hero Jake Locker at quarterback, sidelined as he is with a sprained hip.
Locker was having a solid enough season, completing 62.2 percent of his passes, above his (short) career average, while not yet having thrown an interception this season is perhaps even more impressive. Naturally, he must be pretty devastated at not being able to play against his boyhood team and it's unlikely that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will be thanking Locker for this opportunity. Then again, be a man, my son. You won't play in many more challenging arenas than this one. Welcome to the Pleasuredome.
Much like last season, Seattle ranks in the lower reaches when looking at passing yards, but that tells you only half the story. I don't need to extol the virtues of Wilson's quarterback play (I'm hardly qualified anyway) suffice to say that Tennessee may want to keep him in the pocket for as long as possible. Now, even with Max Unger a nigh on certainty to start this week, this remains a severely depleted Seahawks offensive line and the odds on Wilson being flushed out of the pocket look pretty good so the Titans potentially face quite the dilemma, albeit one that's difficult to complain about.
Tennessee ranks just 26th passing the ball and will do extremely well to get near their 201.2 YPG average. That said, the Colts possessed the league's 24th ranked pass offense before last week so, while I'm loath to predict that the ‘Legion of Boom' will come down like Thor on Fitzpatrick, let's remember that Indy was at home. And Seattle being at home is the biggest difference maker in the NFL.
Every week, I seem to write that the Seahawks will ‘look to establish the run'. Old news. This week, they'll look to pound the ball. There, feels good wheeling out a fresh, new/old phrase every once in a while. That's blown the cobwebs away for another week where the Seahawks will once again ‘look to establish the run' in Arizona. Which brings me on to my second reason why the Titans could represent solid value this week; I got carried away writing about Jake Locker, forgetting my thread. Looks like I need to establish some consistency.
Arizona. Thursday night. On the road. Divisional matchup. Titans. Solid value. I'll say this now...Seattle won't cover the spread both this week and next. They'll slip up in one of them. They may win both contests SU, but they won't cover the spread in both. In fact, they may not cover in either of them.
Due to the difficulty in playing on the road in a short week, even when that journey consists of ‘only' flying to Arizona, should the Seahawks be comfortably clear in the fourth quarter on Sunday, some members of the team, if not the coaching staff, will have one eye firmly fixed on Thursday. I nearly always overlook Thursday Night Football as not being that big of a deal, but when suddenly it's your team doing the travelling, the week doesn't just look short, it looks scarily short.
As of Saturday afternoon UK time, the only line I can see on Thursday is Seattle -8. That looks generous to me if you're of the disposition of betting on the Cardinals. I'd be happier being able to back the Seahawks -6.5. Maybe we will be able to after Sunday.
It's Walt time, gentlemen. Irrepressible, irreverent and acerbic, only once this season has he not given us something to read and here's a sample of his finest this week: ‘(Ryan) Fitzpatrick was pretty pedestrian last week...this was at home, too. Now he has to play in Seattle, where he has never started a game in his career. He has no idea what he's in for. The 12th Man's crowd noise can disrupt solid quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, so what can possibly happen to Fitzpatrick?'
I am torn over what to do here as I believe the line to be spot on. Asking the Seahawks to cover a 12.5 point spread this week is far from asking the impossible when you consider that they've beaten their opponents by an average of 20.2 points at home over the past two seasons (nod to ESPN's Double Coverage). However, this is no ordinary week.
I stick by what I said about Seattle not covering the spread twice in four days and make Thursday night in Arizona the tougher of the two. A small wager it is then on the Seahawks. I'm gambling responsibly.
Please gamble responsibly.