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NFL Odds, Week 5: Seattle vs. Washington against the spread

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

So...Kirk Cousins or Robert Griffin III? Which quarterback is the best fit for Washington's offense? A question that was inconceivable the last time Seattle travelled to the nation's capital. It's also a question that bears no relevance whatsoever on these pages, but I raise it because a similar debate raged around the respective talents of Griffin and Russell Wilson while they were leading their teams to the playoffs during their joint rookie season of 2012.

Griffin and Wilson will forever be inextricably linked thanks to the 2012 NFL Draft and you can throw Andrew Luck into the equation, too.

If Luck was the franchise quarterback poster boy before the Draft, then Griffin was the derring-do signal caller, likely capable of just that little bit more on the football field, the rabbit-in-a-hat trickster, if you will.

It's been less than two years since Seattle travelled to D.C. for a game with far greater ramifications than this one and Griffin was better than Wilson. For all of 12 minutes and 34 seconds. That's precisely how long it took for Washington to begin a pummelling of the Seahawks on NFC Wild Card weekend, to the tune of 14-0 before the end of the first quarter. Only the pummelling never materialised. Sure, Seattle looked shell shocked, but it had only been five weeks since Wilson had led a sensational do-or-die drive in Chicago before leading a second sensational drive in the same game to win in overtime. Over three quarters remained that day in Washington and what happened next...well, we knew the first Lombardi trophy in franchise history was graspable.

Not only did the Seahawks score 24 unanswered points, but Washington never ran a single play inside Seattle territory for the remainder of the game. During the last two offseasons, watching this game again has become something of a regular occurrence for me. If you haven't seen it in a while, and you have the time, do yourself a favour and go back and take it all in again.

The Seahawks won't feel in the slightest bit intimidated on Monday night as they know they can win at FedExField.

If Cousins has shaken off his four interception nightmare against the Giants last week, then fair play to him. And he'll need to have. He looked fine against the Jaguars and Eagles, but Messrs. Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor and Maxwell aren't the Jaguars or Eagles. An early pick (six?) is the last thing Cousins needs so what if Washington opts to pound the ball behind Alfred Morris and Roy Helu? The option's there, of course...against a stout Seahawks run defense giving up just 72.3 rushing yards per game. The confidence Cousins has will likely prove pivotal to the outcome and the only way he'd feel more daunted this week was if the game was being played in Seattle.

Much has been written about the victory over the Broncos and it's a game that should live long in the memory, even for those who watched with not a care who actually won. Yes, much has been written by beings with far more football insight than me, but all this guff about the game being won by the toss of a coin? Politely put...leave off.

Not one single word would've been written had Peyton Manning taken Denver 80 yards in 13 plays to begin the extra period. No wringing of hands at how Russ could've been deprived of getting his hands on the ball. Them's the rules and the NFL has many crappy rules, but you either play by them or you get out of Dodge. Wilson was beyond sublime on the final drive and fellas, we have much, much more of this to come. Nobody should ever pity Peyton Manning and I was surprised that he even half courted the idea by mentioning the current overtime rules.

The San Diego Chargers beat the Seahawks at exactly the right time. Maybe Seattle was looking past an inconsistent team to that matchup with the Broncos a week later. Maybe they weren't. Whatever the reasons for defeat were, the loss instilled in Earl Thomas once again his "championship spirit" and he may as well have been speaking for the whole team. Yes, Washington was blown away by the Giants last time out, which has them ultra focused this week, but this is no longer a Seattle team that simply thinks it can beat anybody just by showing up. The Seahawks are battle hardened all over again and won't be taking anybody lightly. The Chargers did a wonderful thing in Week 2 and we can only be grateful to them for bestowing upon us addition by subtraction.

Whilst being aware that I haven't touched upon even once yet any talk of the spread for Monday night, please allow me to revisit the whole ‘versus' topic from the top of this post.

Andrew Luck...after the aforementioned victory over Denver, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris just happened to opine that, "Russell Wilson is better than Luck. No question."

No question.

Oh, Chris. Beautiful words, but what have you just gone and done?

Frankly, I don't care. Russell Wilson hasn't single-handedly transformed the Seattle Seahawks, although it is a lovely idea. However, he is one of a hundred different cogs in the most well oiled machine Seattle football has ever known. That said, his cog doth move more smoothly than most. My point? In Indianapolis, all of this means jot, so long as they have Andrew Luck under center, but what's really fascinating is this: You ask any football fan in Indy who'd they'd rather have at quarterback. The answer would be Luck. Every time.

You ask any football fan in Seattle who'd they'd rather have at quarterback. The answer would be Wilson. Every time.

Wilson has a Super Bowl ring. Andrew Luck may never win one. Yes, yes, rings don't define every QB there is, but, coming as they do from the same litter, you have to think that NFL championships will be a determining factor once both players have retired and the polemic begins.

Seattle's favoured by 7 points this week and has been favoured on the road by a touchdown or less twelve times previously in the RWE (Russell Wilson Era); their 7-5 record ATS in those encounters can be described as so-so at best. However, they began the sequence 0-3 when failing to cover in Arizona (-2.5), St. Louis (-2.5) and Miami (-2.5) during the 2012 season. The turnaround began when throttling the Bills in Toronto (-5.5) before overcoming a 2.5 point handicap against this very same Washington team in the aforementioned NFC Wild Card game two seasons ago.

So, as trends go, Seattle's really 7-2 ATS in its last nine when favoured on the road by a touchdown or less. The other two failures were in Indianapolis (-1) in 2013 and San Diego (-4.5).

With a nod to our partners at, here's a couple of other trends: Washington is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games and 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games at home. That's probably what you were expecting to read and it wouldn't dissuade anybody from lumping on the Seahawks, but what you probably wouldn't be expecting to read is that Seattle is 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games after the bye week. Looking solely at the RWE, the Seahawks failed to cover in Miami (-2.5) after the bye in '12, but blew away the Saints (-5.5) at home after the bye in '13.

Not wishing to tempt fate here, but Seattle's been crazy lucky on the injury front over the past couple of seasons and I even include Percy Harvin in that as we didn't know what it was like to have him on the field until, pretty much, the Super Bowl, so he was never really properly missed. How ridiculous was it that the Seahawks were able to start a blue chip free agent wide receiver when playing for a Lombardi? I only mention this as we'll be without Zach Miller for what should only amount to two or three games, but so spoilt have we been with regards injuries that just this small setback could, well, set us back.

You all know what Miller brings to the table, how integral he is to everything Seattle does on offense and, despite moving in slow motion and creaking as he does so, he knows football. Boy, does he know football. He's Mr. Nuts and Bolts, exactly as the ridiculously overlooked and underappreciated Mack Strong was.

The Seahawks will adjust, of course they will, and I guess Luke Willson's play will be scrutinized more than most.

Here's a thing...Seattle's 8-0 SU in its last eight appearances on Monday Night Football. Washington's 0-6 SU in its last six games played at night. What can possibly go wrong?

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