Seattle has to win by a touchdown this week to cover the spread. Blimey. Really? Against the 9-1 Arizona Cardinals, that looks to be a very, very stupid line indeed. Even at the CLink. However, yes you can roll up, roll up to line your pockets on this one. Without wishing to turn any of you away after sixty words, I'm all over Arizona this week +6.5.
That line is as of Wednesday afternoon and I'm not waiting around as there's not a cat in hell's chance of the spread hitting seven...
...and then I decide to just double check what's going on over at our partners at oddsshark.com. There you have it, and a feeling not unfamiliar washes over me; I was wrong. 5Dimes are offering Arizona +7. Extraordinary.
Extraordinary, but let's consider a few things. Firstly, the Cardinals are running the ball 3.1 YPA, tying the Chargers for joint worst in the league. Secondly, as far as defending the pass goes, at least in terms of yards per game allowed, Arizona ranks 29th, giving up (precisely) 263.2 YPG. Admittedly though, offsetting that is the simple truth that the last thing our pace-setting division brethren fear the most is Seattle's aerial attack. Thirdly, how d'you fancy facing a quarterback with a 53.6 completion percentage this season? That's what Drew Stanton brings to the table on Sunday. That figure's been brought down due to sub 50% completion outings against the Giants and Broncos (and what of the giant Broncos this season?) as he hit on 65.6% of his passes against Detroit last week. However, he also threw two picks in that game trying to be a little too smart so he's welcome to attempt the same this Sunday.
Every team can lay claim to the schedule being a mite unkind to them, but Seattle does have it tough over the next 5-6 days, heading as they do to San Francisco for TNF (lazy...apologies) after what should be another bruising division battle on Sunday. Or will it?
Arizona won't fear Seattle at home* in four weeks time and really can afford to lose this week. As long as they take care of the Seahawks in Glendale, then the road to Glendale should still go through er, Glendale. As much as Seattle could be tempted to look ahead to Thanksgiving, it ought to prove a doddle to resist. Yes, the 49ers are the more bitter rival, and, dare I say this, a little easier to get ‘up' for, but the weeks of waiting for the Cardinals to slip up look long gone**. The Seahawks need this one a helluva lot more than the visitors and it's an edge that's hard to ignore. The defending NFL champions won't want to lose at home to Arizona for the second consecutive season and Seattle has to treat this like a playoff game. It's a very handy mindset to possess and at the very least should always make a team dangerous. Not that the Seahawks can't be, you understand.
*Unless 58-0 happens again. **Unless 58-0 happens again.
Tamba Hali voiced the exact point I did a brilliant job of hashing above when saying, after the Chiefs lost to the Raiders on Thursday night, that "...[Oakland] wanted it more than we wanted it." Simplifying this preview somewhat, I don't foresee any scenario where Seattle doesn't want this more than Arizona on Sunday. And just to focus on Kansas City more than I should, they didn't lose on Thursday because of travelling on a short week. They lost because they were ‘up' for the Seahawks last week and what followed was the most royal case of ‘After the Lord Mayor's Show.' How sodding annoying, but equally annoying is the fact that the target on Seattle's back this season is like a vast, shining globe that casts a light of lambent topaz into space; I never intended to invite George Lucas into proceedings.
Arizona is 8-2 ATS this season and 6-0 ATS over their last six. As a road underdog, they're 2-1 ATS, the failure coming in Denver (+8), while they covered comfortably in New Jersey against the Giants (+2) and in Dallas (+1.5). It's nothing to go on at all really, save for the fact that I struggle to see past them getting seven points this week. Yes, yes, and despite my reasoning (if that's what you want to call it) that the Seahawks want and need this more. I sincerely believe that we'll win this week, but not by more than a touchdown, which does fly completely in the face of recent spread betting history, at least as far as our beloved Seahawks are concerned. Allow me to illustrate.
With Russell Wilson at quarterback, Seattle is 8-0 ATS (including the playoffs) when favoured at home by less than a touchdown. It's a remarkable little run and here's the breakdown:
2012, Week 9 -4 vs. Vikings WON 30-20
2012, Week 10 -5.5 vs. Jets WON 28-7
2012, Week 16 -0.5 vs. 49ers WON 42-13
2013, Week 2 -2.5 vs. 49ers WON 29-3
2013, Week 13 -5.5 vs. Saints WON 34-7
2013 NFCCG -3 vs. 49ers WON 23-17
2014, Week 1 -5.5 vs. Packers WON 36-16
2014, Week 3 -4.5 vs. Broncos WON 26-20 (OT)
Should that be a trend you find has you reaching fast for your hard earned, you'll undoubtedly be encouraged to see that, on five of the occasions above, the Seahawks didn't just cover the spread, they positively obliterated it. And the last six covers were against playoff calibre teams. Bit like the 2014 Cardinals.
As much as this season has given us cause to gnash our teeth, the inescapable truth is that Seattle is only a couple of moments away from being 9-1. It might seem flippant to say so, but in light of the NFL declaring this week that Bill Leavy's officiating crew missed two defensive pass interference calls on the Chiefs last week, one that would've given the Seahawks a 1st and goal at the 1 in the fourth quarter, we can pinpoint exactly where this season's twists and turns have occurred. It's not like we can write losses off this season, where we were blown away. No, Romo's 3rd and forever genius, St. Louis's special teams' genius and last Sunday's not-so-genius officiating are contributions best forgotten about. Only they're unforgettable.
Were Seattle really 9-1, this week's line would be 10 points or more and, coupled with the 8-0 stat above, you might think the Seahawks to be tremendous value this week. I want to buy into it, but simply can't as I'm a glass half empty kinda guy.
With a nod once again to our partners at oddsshark.com, here's a few trends:
Seattle is 1-5 ATS in its last 5 games
Arizona is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Arizona is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games on the road
Arizona is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games in Seattle
Seattle is 18-7 ATS in its last 25 games at home
Seattle is 21-2 SU in its last 23 games at home
The Seahawks ain't losing this week and we'll be two games behind the Cardinals come Monday morning. Due to work commitments, I won't have the requisite time to contribute anything before the game next Thursday. Oi, quit the celebrations. See you in two weeks.
Please gamble responsibly.