Welcome back, oh football season, but I should also say thank you for having me back. This weekend has been too long coming, but what I have discovered, all over again (haven't we all?), particularly when it comes to matters defeat on the sporting landscape, is that time is indeed a great healer. Not earth shatteringly philosophical, just a truism.
Loss is important in all its guises and some take longer to get over than others, but no longer being able to rely on the Real Rob Report, at least not from a Seahawks perspective anyway...I dunno, that's tough. Not that Richard Sherman needed the extra, close at hand attention anyway.
So, here we are, back to being able to bet on football of the regular season variety and you have this damn Limey offering up his views all the way to the Super Bowl. Let's cut straight to the chase, shall we?
The line for Seattle's opening game this season does remind me of this very weekend twelve months ago. A road date in Arizona was first up and I advocated lumping everything you had on the Seahawks to cover -2.5 and even alluded to the Cardinals having two quarterbacks, which of course means they have no quarterback; Kevin Kolb quickly proved that there was indeed a QB in place although I still don't quite know how he did it and no amount of poring over it is ever going to make it any better. Leave it alone, let time do its thing.
The consensus this week is that Seattle is favoured by 3.5 although they are available -3 with William Hill and Betway. It's not that we shouldn't be favoured, Heaven forbid, no, but I'm nervous. The Seahawks were weary travellers as road favourites last season, compiling a 1-3 record when the oddsmakers expected them to triumph and the sole cover was in Toronto against the Bills, when they had to overcome a 5.5 point handicap. They just about managed it(!). Prior to that, and after Arizona, Seattle also came up short in St. Louis and Miami.
The early season pressure to win as a road favourite was, purely in hindsight, pretty predictable, if not somewhat inevitable. Russell Wilson was learning how to command an offense and debate was raging on Field Gulls at the time as to whether he should've been benched in favour of Matt Flynn. John Schneider and Pete Carroll weren't going to panic and we now all sing from the same hymn sheet, but what a time it must have been to coach when teams did properly build through the Draft and quarterbacks were given time to develop. I am curious as to what percentage of head coaches are in bed with social media.
With Seattle favoured this week, what I'm about to write doesn't necessarily have any relevance for this contest, but I'm going to include it to give you a more rounded view on how the Seahawks fared on the road ATS in 2012, remembering they were 1-3 as a road favourite.
As a road underdog, they tipped the figure on its head, finishing the year 3-1 ATS and here's the breakdown:
Week 5 at Carolina +3 (won 16-12)
Week 7 at San Francisco +7.5 (lost 13-6)
Week 8 at Detroit +2.5 (lost 28-24)
Week 13 at Chicago +3.5 (won 23-17 OT)
I must confess to only just discovering a particular statistic this week, one that had completely passed me by, but one that serves well those who wish to lay down their hard earned on the home team here. Seattle's lost its road opener on the last six occasions and, in the most simplest of terms, should that become unlucky number slevin this week, then Carolina automatically covers. And those with a fancy for the Panthers are sure to get a run for their money anyway as they boast a very solid front seven on defense. In fact, even ‘very solid' looks to be an understatement.
Before this game, my mind wanders to the immediate aftermath and if, as is almost expected, Seattle struggles to run the ball effectively, will Michael Robinson's release be lamented ad nauseum?
I must confess to something else, and while I doubt it'll be shared by everybody, it may strike a chord somewhere: I'm pleased that Sunday promises to be close and hard fought. OK, yes, we may end up being all over their secondary, perceived as it is to be one of the weaker units in the league, but with San Francisco coming to CenturyLink next week, on Sunday Night Football no less, it pays to be battle scarred to a degree. Speaking of our delectable division rival, that also acts as a nice conduit to a pertinent train of thought when considering betting on this game.
I wrote last year more than once that a good habit to harbour, when betting on the NFL, is to have a look ahead to next week's games as it is known to possibly influence your decision on why you like a particular team that week or, perhaps more importantly, how much money you're willing to lay down.
My apologies if that reads badly so what follows is a specific example.
Looking ahead at the schedule is primarily useful for those teams who may be a strong favourite one week with a tough matchup against a hated rival the next. This invites the back door cover. Let's use Seattle's schedule this season as a hypothetical example.
What we hope happens this season is that Tampa Bay visits in Week 9 and by that time, the Seahawks are 6-2...c'mon, let's keep this real as it's *unlikely we go unbeaten through Week 8. The Buccaneers are struggling, Josh Freeman's been replaced by Mike Glennon and the rookie's struggling to get to grips with the pro game. My, I do like writing this kinda spiel as it makes football seem so simple. Then again, I like football so much for exactly the opposite. I digress.
*You bet I'm dying to be proved wrong.
So, the Bucs sit at 3-5, are proving to be horrible on the road and Seattle's a 10 point favourite. What can possibly go wrong? A look at the following week shows the Falcons are up next, on the road, at 1 p.m. Eastern and we all know what that means.
Seattle leads Tampa 28-7 just over midway through the fourth quarter, the W's secure and a little bit of self preservation creeps over to the sideline with Atlanta hurtling into full view and a possible precursor to the NFC Championship, not to mention making up for January 13. The foot's taken off the gas a little and the Bucs pull a touchdown back. The game's still safe and they score again in the final ten seconds. Yes, this is a dangerous tactic, but I've lost money this way more times than I care to mention although, in all fairness, it is those teams that are favoured by two TDs with a tricky opponent the following week who are particularly susceptible to back door covers.
So, will the Seahawks have one eye on San Francisco this week? I want to say "not a chance", but I do believe that to be true. This is Week 1, the beginning of the season, a team with Super Bowl aspirations looking to make a statement, albeit without their most prized offseason possession. The missing piece of the jigsaw is back under the sofa and there's little point looking for it until at least Week 7 and even that's wildly optimistic.
I've liked Seattle -3 ever since the line opened, perhaps subjectively. They have to shake this road opener losing streak at some stage and if it doesn't happen this week, when the curse eventually is lifted, it'll come against a team boasting more talent than Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Thomas, Josh Norman and James Dockery at cornerback.
Running the ball may well prove difficult and the Marshawn Lynch/Luke Kuechly chess match (played with wrought iron pieces) figures to be the centrepiece in previews. What may be overlooked when mulling over the relative strengths of Carolina's front seven is that outside linebackers Thomas Davis and Jon Beason have been ridiculously injury prone in recent seasons and there's no guarantee that either one of them will last the sixty minutes. Wishful thinking?
Without wishing any player in the NFL serious harm, should they feel an old injury nagging away Sunday, I won't be shedding tears. Nor would Panther fans were the boot on the other foot.
Where's the money going? On the more talented squad. I take the Seahawks to be triumphant by more than a field goal. Two safeties would do it.
Please gamble responsibly.
More from Field Gulls:
- Jacson's Winners: Week 1
- Seahawks vs Panthers: A strength on strength matchup
- Seahawks vs. Panthers: Friday injury report - Rice, Williams, McDaniel and Mebane all probable
- Seahawks vs. Panthers: coaches, players on the airwaves
- Seahawks vs. Panthers 2013: Game time, TV schedule, radio info, and more