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NFL Odds, Week 8: Seahawks at Rams against the spread

Dilip Vishwanat

It can't just be 49ers fans who must tire of hearing about The 12th Man. Apologies to any Cardinals or Rams out there, but San Fran have become the nemesis and it's something I hoped would happen ever since Seattle was plonked back into the NFC West in 2002. They're the big one, were always the big one and Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick don't just stand up as my very own *Dick Dastardly and Muttley, they are my least favourite "double-dealing do-badders" on the Seahawks annual schedule.

*Richard "Dick" Milhous Dastardly. Wow. Such care was taken with his name. I am genuinely impressed by that.

Barely 100 words in and already this resembles the shoddiest attempt at an odds/spread betting column there is. Apologies, but not to any Cardinals or Rams out there.

Why do I mention the 49ers? It doesn't appear relevant this week and nobody here likes them very much. At all. It is to do with The 12th Man. Yep, us, you gorgeous bunch of sophisticates.

Very rarely do I delve into NFL message boards nowadays, beyond bored have I become of the majority of comments; to label them puerile only serves to make them sound enlightening. Whatever lies beneath puerile get the picture, but I was reminded of comments I'd read over the years, from Niners fans, on whatever/nobody gives a monkey' when watching the Seahawks in Arizona last Thursday week.

During barren seasons, it's been easy to mock the fervour generated, or otherwise, at Qwest/CLink and San Franciscans are never slow in jumping on the bandwagon. Hmmm, to be fair to them, they're the ones ramping up the bandwagon in the first place, but I'm not here to lavish praise on anybody from the Bay Area and nor would you allow me to do so. Arizona, Week 7 is where I was...

As I hope most of you will know, I have to get up in the early hours to watch TNF/SNF/MNF so 01:20 GMT is when I was rudely awakened for Seattle's Week 7 matchup. On a school night an' all, but that's always the least of my worries. I do actually work with schools, but it ain't good work and this, the unpaid variety, is way better.

I remember thinking during the game how impressed I was with the turn out from the travelling support, but went straight back to bed for a couple of hours after the game, missing out on a quite delectable dessert, namely the post game interview with Russell Wilson. It was only when I saw Danny's link to it this week that I even knew the clip existed. Yep, I agree, it's a poor show on my part, but let's not bash the stupid Brit, eh?

That's what you call support, San Francisco. Jeez, that looks like my very own version of puerility and it doesn't look pretty, but, San Francisco, that's what you call support. If you were already sick of hearing about The 12th Man, then boy, oh boy, you ain't heard nothin' yet.

As I've written previously, I do honestly wonder whether Kaepernick will ever win a game in Seattle, so shattered may he be by his first two attempts. OK, John Elway came back from three shattering Super Bowl losses to win two rings, but the days of comparing Kaepernick to Elway are never going to come.

I realise I'm in danger here of writing about San Fran a little too much, but you know what they say about where to keep your enemies.

Over the course of the Friday and Saturday after the win last week, I found myself thinking about you guys. Yeah, yeah, a little weird perhaps, but I will counter that by saying there's some days that I wish I was in Seattle more than anywhere else and last weekend was one of those occasions.

I was basking in the glow of the Seahawks being 6-1. Seriously, deliriously basking. As if that wasn't enough to put an extra spring in the step, this team had really shown its claws on the road at a division rival on the shortest week you can possibly have in the NFL. If you chuck in that Seattle had lost on six of its previous seven visits to Arizona, it makes the win even more impressive. And it was impressive. Sure, there were a couple of hiccups along the way and I don't need to spoon feed you the facts, but 34-22 massively flatters the Cardinals.

I advocated backing Arizona +7 and it was sound advice. There was a heavy weight of recent history against the Seahawks and I was dreading how they might perform on the road with practically no rest. However, I had forgotten one tiny thing. Despite the near miss in Houston, defeat in Indianapolis and a mistake ridden outing against Tennessee, I'd failed to remember something, one fundamental reality - how good a football team Seattle really is. And they showed it in front of a live television audience. Nationally.

So, there I was craving to be in Seattle before the rest of the NFL caught up on Sunday. It felt fantastic 4,781 miles away so I could only imagine how it felt in the current hub of the football world. The Seahawks had done the hard work, some very hard work, and how good was it to kick back and just watch the league unfold before us on Sunday and Monday?

Compared to how most of us were probably feeling before Week 7 is 4,781 miles away from how most of us might feel this week when looking at the schedule before New Orleans come to town in Week 13. Dare I say this as a Seahawk, but three of the next four games shouldn't present much of a problem at all. The road game in Atlanta in Week 10 promises to be the most difficult, despite the ridiculous injuries they're suffering, but if Seattle does hold a 10-1 record before the home Monday nighter against the Saints...spine tingling.

Should that happen, Marv Levy was right...Monday, December 2, 2013...where would you rather be than right here, right now?

For those of you that care to know this, I have a week off work for half term next week, which means I'm able to watch the Seahawks in St. Louis with no care for the office the following morning. I don't half envy you lot who can watch your football without ever having to watch the clock, never imagining your boss telling you how dreadful you look in a few hours time ("I must be ill. I'll go home, shall I?")

It would be remiss of me not to mention Kellen Clemens right about now. I suppose any look at this game can't not mention him first. What must he be thinking? This has to be the most difficult game of his career. He's up against the best defense in the NFL. Now, statistically, they're not, as the Texans can still lay claim to that, but that's the black and white version.

Clemens' confidence won't be spiked by the knowledge that in a career spanning eight seasons and twelve starts, his completion percentage stands at 51.8; I may as well chuck in his 7:13 TD:INT ratio for good measure.

Like they do with every quarterback they face, the Seattle defense will dare Clemens to throw at them, but you just get the impression they'll extend that mischievousness this week.

Sam Bradford was having a productive year before being lost for the season and while Clemens will be familiar with the offense he's being asked to run hereon in, he'll have nothing like the chemistry Bradford had with his receivers.

Just two weeks ago, the Rams battered the Texans on the road into submission, an outcome that would have had them thinking ‘wild card'. One torn ACL later, those dreams look shattered and it will now be a straight two horse race for top spot in the NFC West this season. Did we honestly believe it would really be anything different to that?

The onus is firmly on Clemens this week as it's inconceivable to imagine St. Louis generating many yards on the ground. Their 70.6 rushing YPG won't make anybody feel proud and any attempt at protecting Clemens from throwing the ball will undoubtedly be led by Zac Stacy. The two man committee he's able to form with Daryl Richardson does exist, but Richardson's 2.9 YPC over the season isn't doing him any favours. Stacy has a supreme opportunity to make a statement on primetime. Naturally, I hope he doesn't.

Percy Harvin won't be making his Seahawks debut this week and I'm fine with that. He doesn't need to and he may not have to next week either, at home to the Buccaneers, but the temptation to unleash him at a home game may be difficult for Pete Carroll to resist. Sure, the Seattle staff have shown great patience with Harvin's injury (yep, there was no choice), but this is still Pete Carroll we're talking about. The excitable little cherub inside him is probably bursting to let Harvin go out and play with his chums next week. We shall see.

Earlier this week, the Seahawks could be backed -10.5 points, a line that's now no skinnier than 11 points as I write this early on Sunday morning. The Rams are available +12.5 with our partners at oddsshark, no less. I'm hardly ever going to discourage anybody to back a home team with a double digit start, particularly a double digit start approaching two touchdowns, but this week feels a little different. I'm not going to be shocked if this game ends something like 30-10 or 27-6 so will lay my cards on the table now and advise backing Seattle -11. Plus, (recent) history's on their side this week.

Last week's win represented the third time in three attempts, in the Russell Wilson era, that the Seahawks had covered the spread as a road favourite when favoured by a field goal or more. The two previous occasions were versus the Bills in Toronto last season (-5.5) and at Carolina on the opening weekend this year (-3).

The spread of 6.5 covered last week set the bar a little higher, but with increasingly good football teams comes loftier expectations. Personally, I have Seattle pegged as 11.5 point favourites this week and 16 point favourites at home to Tampa Bay next Sunday.

For those interested in Russell Wilson era ATS stats, the Seahawks are 1-4 in the regular season when favoured on the road by less than a field goal. That becomes 2-4 if you throw in the wild card game in Washington last season. The lone cover came in Houston this year (-1) and that's only if you include overtime. If you don't, that gives Seattle an 0-5 regular season record ATS with Wilson running things when favoured by less than a FG away from the Pacific North West. Perhaps you didn't really need to hear that.

Here's a couple of nuggets for you, with a nod to those sporting people at The Seahawks are 9-3 ATS in its last twelve games against the Rams and 4-2 ATS in its last six games in St. Louis. However, last season Seattle was 0-2 ATS in this matchup (-2.5 away, -10.5 at home).

I've not mentioned Marshawn Lynch yet, but I'll wager he ran through your head while reading this. Yes, he could actually run through your head, but enough of such imagery. I mentioned New Orleans coming to Seattle in a few weeks time, which surely conjures up one thing. Those 67 beautiful yards. Tell me the run flashed across your thoughts.

Just how St. Louis hopes to contain Lynch (and Russ, when the pocket inevitably collapses) is something best left to the Rams' defensive staff, but it's an unenviable task, particularly when your team ranks 30th in the league in rushing YPG allowed (126.4). The 4.2 rushing YPA is actually less than the yards allowed by New Orleans, Detroit, Kansas City, San Diego and Dallas, five teams with genuine playoff credentials, but is still a figure sure to be exploited by the Seahawks.

Divisional road games should never be easy. Last week's could've and should've been easier. Because it's the Seahawks, the same will probably apply this week. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Please gamble responsibly.

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