When news broke that Matt Flynn was going to sign for either the Seahawks or the Dolphins, I remember being curious as to how the choice may have been viewed in Vegas. At first blush, it looked as though Flynn had no choice to make at all as Joe Philbin, Flynn's former offensive coordinator in Green Bay, had just been anointed the Big Fish in Miami. Unfortunately, for such a glamorous franchise, it is an ever decreasing pond at Sun Life Stadium, but Flynn would've been instantly familiar with the playbook and it was difficult not to imagine him being placed atop the depth chart before the ink on his contract had dried.
I would be staggered if even one sportsbook was ever brave enough to publicise a line on the choice a free agent had to make, but to play around with the odds for a second, we would have been looking at Flynn choosing Miami at around 4/11 with Seattle 2/1. Or in spread betting parlance, if the Flynn Bowl was played on a neutral field, the line would've opened with the Seahawks as 5.5 point underdogs.
Flynn sided with the ‘Dog and teased us with, "I felt it's a program that's really on the rise, doing the right thing, is being led by the right type of people."
Should Flynn's prognostication flirt with good health and momentum, we could see moments in 2012 to rival events of January 8, 2011. Optimism is rife and everyone's bought into Pete Carroll and John Schneider's philosophy (haven't we?!).
Criticism of our Draft class left a sour taste in the mouth, yet what's not to like about it? Yes, we view our own rookie choices through Wolf Grey tinted spectacles and the most talked about selections of Irvin and Wilson aside, initial reports of Bobby Wagner, Robert Turbin and Jaye Howard leave us like kids on Christmas Eve. And Jeremy Lane clearly ain't no shrinking violet!
So, are the oddsmakers in Vegas joining us in sensing a challenge to San Francisco (at the very least) this year? Not on your Nelly and in the view of two sportsbooks we're not even poised for a .500 season. Now, despite all the good news and goodwill (barring the fracas/handbags at ten paces) emanating from OTAs, I will admit here that I wouldn't be the least bit surprised should the Seahawks disappoint us with an 8-8 showing.
It's not what I expect, it simply derives from following this beguiling franchise for 28 years. Plus, I always prefer the insurance blanket of having a half empty glass.
Lines are available on season win totals for every team in the NFL and the aforementioned sportsbooks playing down our chances are Cantor Gaming and BetOnline. Each book has the Seahawks win total pegged at 7 and, despite the schedule's latent brutality, I wouldn't discourage anybody from buying at 7, thus betting on the ‘over'. My own opinion is that we'll finish 9-7 (go on, get in line to vent, fellas) and here's my reasoning(s).
Let's begin with our delightful neighbours. I have us sweeping Arizona and St. Louis and splitting the series with San Fran... need I mention that we'll win at home and they'll prevail at The ‘Stick? OK, just have.
I don't fear the Cowboys at home (I don't like their WR depth at all), nor the Jets, and certainly not the Vikings. That's already eight victories so what of the rest of the schedule? I have us succumbing to the Packers and Patriots at home, although I fear Green Bay less than New England.
That leaves five road games, but four defeats in my opinion. I think the Seahawks will struggle in Carolina, Detroit, Chicago and Buffalo, but leave Miami with the W. However, the games against the Panthers and Bills throw up a couple of wonderful intangibles, both of which are simple concepts with possibly huge implications come game time. Let's start with Buffalo, or, more pertinently, Toronto and the home of the Rogers Centre.
Therein lies the issue for those of a Bills persuasion: you technically have a home game, but it's in unfamiliar surroundings, or at best semi familiar, giving the visiting team more of a chance...supposedly. I won't begin to compare it to a franchise being the ‘home' team at Wembley Stadium because I view that as neutral territory and the spread should be adjusted accordingly.
Last year, for example, when Tampa Bay ‘hosted' Chicago, it did make a mockery of home designation because I can tell you right now that there's a bunch more Bears fans here in London than there are Buccaneers...and that showed in the crowd. It probably escaped the notice of the NFL, and I mean that sincerely, but us Brits were fed weekly diets of Walter Payton, Jim McMahon and Mike Singletary during the Bears' heyday, thus making them a team easy to become enamoured with and a lot of that support hasn't wavered.
My obvious point being that, while I do tip the Bills to beat us (at this ridiculously early stage), I love the fact that we're travelling to Canada for it. In addition, of the four regular season games Buffalo have played there, their sole victory came last year, 23-0 over the Redskins.
Carolina...quite simply, nobody knows whether Cam Newton will suffer a sophomore slump. Now, he shouldn't, he really shouldn't...but he just might and it was he alone who made the Panthers competitive and respectable last year, not to mention feared. As I say, he shouldn't, but it'll be difficult to replicate what he achieved last season, which makes betting on Carolina one of the riskiest propositions there is before a single ball's been thrown.
So, let's say we do win in Toronto and catch Newton in Week 5 with his head in a spin. Do I see an 11-5 record, four better than we're currently being offered in Vegas?
As an exercise in what ifs and buts, let's take those two wins and say we'll get swept by the 49ers and lose in Arizona. That takes us back to 9-7, my initial prediction for this season. Heck, we might end up beating the Pack, but lose to the London Rams. Whichever way you want to look at it, I don't see past 9-7. Is that a good season? Considering the schedule, I wouldn't say it's a terrible record.
Many of you will undoubtedly disagree and I welcome that, but I can't stress enough that I would love to be proved wrong on this and see a profit having bought the over on our win total at 7 as we head into the playoffs with double digits under the column marked W.
Rob contributes here at Field Gulls, in addition to writing for his own blog Rob's NFL Yard, to give all you degenerate gamblers a better look at the ever-changing NFL odds, with a focus on the Seahawks. During the season, his odds and game-handicapping-based analysis should be a great complement to Jacson's excellent NFL Picks column to give readers a great picture of each game going into Sunday, and hopefully enhance your enjoyment of the action.