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NFL Odds, Week 12: Seahawks vs. Steelers against the spread

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What kind of idiocy is this? The Seahawks are a complete shambles. What a sodding rabble.

What sort of coaching administration are they running up there? Who on earth didn't pass on the memo to Thomas Rawls? It can't have been that difficult.

Seattle had decided, so we thought, to take the scenic route to the playoffs this year, kindly eschewing the opportunity of utilising the Howitzer accompanied by the Battle Tank in favour of a lighter infantry.

The Seahawks were to use 2015 to take in the hills and mountains, the rivers and streams, the beauty of wildlife with the accompanying bumps in the road that come with it. Thomas Rawls then surmises that that's a load of ol' bollocks and decides to take the car straight through the belly of the metropolis, scorching through every red light in town, caring not one jot for the patrons scattering in either direction. He'd tried this once before in Cincinnati (uh-uh, I'm not counting the mismatch against a demoralised Chicago), but the cheeky little scamp hadn't been allowed to get away with it.

I'm not one for much deviation on what is meticulous, fastidious planning so, why, oh, why, didn't somebody, anybody, have a word in Rawls's shell-like before the carnage became too much for San Francisco? Then again, it was kinda fun to watch so maybe, just maybe, Rawls should be allowed the blatant insubordination. We do also need to consider, after all, the not insignificant matter of replacing some esteemed fellow named Marshawn Lynch and perhaps this little tearaway is gonna fit the bill. Time to turf out the maps, chaps, don the blinkers and make sweet merry hell.

Rawls's catch and run on a screen pass on 1st & 10 from midfield on Seattle's opening possession last Sunday had me out of my chair, more than I was (if I may admit this) when Russell Wilson beautifully lobbed the ball into Tyler Lockett's waiting arms for the first touchdown. On that play, the ball spinning sumptuously through the crisp, low Seattle air, you could mark the trajectory immediately and the destination was never in doubt. When Rawls was scampering towards Tramaine Brock at San Francisco's 45 yard line, we might have wished for what did eventually happen, but it was still kind of a reach. Not for this sinewed bowling ball. Rawls hit Brock at the 49ers' 43 yard line; Brock finished up rolling back to his feet at his own 34, a full nine yards from the point of impact. Baby Beast Mode? Baby Bam Bam more like. I looked utterly ridiculous, on my feet, fists punching the air like I'd just snagged a date with the hot girl next door.

For what has been a heated rivalry, stoked I suppose ever since Pete Carroll came to town, Seattle's recent record ATS versus the 49ers is quite astonishing considering that the two teams, until this season, have appeared pretty evenly matched, at least on paper. Even as recently as last season, the Seahawks entered Santa Clara on Thanksgiving +2, a line Seattle obliterated in a game that was never seriously in doubt.

For as long as Russell Wilson has been Seattle's quarterback, the Seahawks are 7-0 ATS versus the 49ers, regardless of venue. If you want to go back further than that, the Seahawks are now 7-0 ATS in their last seven home games versus the 49ers. Heck, that means that even Jim Mora was 1-0 ATS at home versus the 49ers. Damn, Seattle let him go just as he was beginning to turn the corner...

For those that care for Mora's record, per, San Francisco came to Seattle as a 1 point favourite in Week 13 of the 2009 season; they duly lost 20-17.

San Francisco really has been Seattle's little puppy. I'm gonna regret writing that, ain't I?

Just a word on Blaine Gabbert, if I may. He's no superstar (as in he's no Mack Strong), but I doff my cap to the mini-comeback he's making. If nothing else, he's showing an inordinate amount of fight, a trait that always seemed forever missing. He is the anti-Samson and good luck to the fella.

So, what to make of our old friends from Pittsburgh? They have, thus far, swept the NFC West this season so if you're looking for a form guide, that 3-0 line SU can be found staring straight back at you.

As to the spread, the Steelers are available plus (a whopping?) 4.5 points over at BetBright and Bwin. That was as of Wednesday evening so much could have changed by now, but it's a line I like the look of and I expect it to come in. The best line available on Seattle (Wednesday) is -3.5 points, but the half point is so, so crucial as it pertains to the obvious field goal and it's as if the oddsmakers are inviting a deluge of money on Pittsburgh. They're gonna get it an' all.

Another entity that's gonna get it is one Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger. Quite simply, he's a survivor of Super Bowl XL and CenturyLink will, of course, be going bananas. Don't they always? Yes, they do. Always. However, a special kinda welcome is undoubtedly being reserved for the villainous Roethlisberger; his head would swell at 'villainous'.

My mind wanders to the state of Pittsburgh's playbook for this one. Playbook? They don't need no stinkin' playbook. First read: Heath Miller. Second read: Heath Miller. Third read: Heath Miller. Fourth read: Heath Miller. It figures that the Steelers are going to score points on Sunday. After Miller's five seam route touchdowns are accounted for, I'm all over Pittsburgh +35 points. Can Seattle score 36 to beat them? That's almost what this game feels like to so much as the Seahawks will simply (huh?) need to outscore and outlast the Steelers. I've been dreading this matchup for weeks.

I want to believe that Pittsburgh's offense against Seattle's defense makes for a fascinating duel. I just want the Seahawks to hold the Steelers to under 23 points. There you go, and wouldn't you just know it, Pittsburgh is averaging 23.6 PPG over the season; Seattle averages 22.8. That 4.5 point line looks ever more alluring.

I'm trying to ignore the noise of how the Steelers are finally at full health, or, as wide receiver Markus Wheaton puts it, "...everyone's healthy, no excuses. We have to put it together." Six words at the end there that each of us seem to cling to on a weekly/daily/hourly basis, depending on your disposition.

Pittsburgh will always bring to mind thoughts of the ill-fated encounter at Ford Field nearly ten years ago, but it's not a bad thing. Life balance is important and it should make us all appreciate a little more just what we've witnessed the Seahawks accomplish since 2012. However, there's the rub and it's one that rankles, as it should. Deep down, we all know that Seattle should be 3-0 in the Super Bowl. One loss was out of their hands. The other wasn't.

If we're to consider Seattle's form at home in the RWE as a favourite in the range such as they are on Sunday, I think it's important to look between 3.5 points and 4.5 points as a) it represents both lines for both teams and b) as I wrote above, the difference between backing a team (plus or minus) 3 or 3.5 is massive, if only for the nerves and nothing else. Let's see what this exercise brings:

2012, Week 9: (-4 vs. Vikings) WON 30-20

2014, Week 3: (-4.5 vs. Broncos) WON 26-20 (OT)

That's it.

To make this a tad more interesting, we could look at home games where the line isn't a million miles from this one, at least from a Seahawks perspective:

2013, Week 2: (-2.5 vs. 49ers) WON 29-3

2013, NFCCG: (-3 vs. 49ers) WON 23-17

2015, Week 10: (-2.5 vs. Cardinals) LOST 39-32

So, optimistically, Seattle's 2-0 ATS avec* Russ when favoured in familiar surroundings such as they are this week. Similarly optimistically**, Seattle's 4-1 ATS avec Russ get the picture.

*Pour vous, Mr. F

**Do not verbalise after five drinks

Confirmation of Marshawn Lynch's absence for a few weeks doesn't come as a shock after word first surfaced that he was flying to Philadelphia for diagnosis on what was believed to be a sports hernia. Believe it or not, I was diagnosed myself with a hernia six weeks ago, but, oh, how glorious it would be if I could wrap the word ‘sports' around my own injury. Heaven knows how mine came about, suffice it to say that ‘sports' could only be attributed to me making unnatural movements watching the Seahawks this season, such has been the pleasure/pain/agony/ecstasy of the 2015 campaign. I'm going in for a consultation on December 21 (Merry bloody Christmas to me) as the funds didn't quite stretch to a quick sojourn to Philly.

It's easier (but not easy) to look past Lynch's injury now that Rawls has truly announced his arrival. His performance in Cincinnati may have been viewed as a fluke by the majority of the league, but to see for a second time an undrafted rookie running back flash a combination of brute force and pure, unadulterated football savvy will have folks mimicking meerkats. However, one unfortunate break (excuse the pun) then sees the Seahawks relying on Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown and Derrick Coleman.

Lynch, as we know, is carved from granite and maybe (only maybe) the hernia is age and battle worn related. Rawls has yet to be tested at the NFL level so, what awaits him, and us really, is a hold-your-breath moment in time. After last Sunday, the anticipation is palpable and so eager are we to perhaps proclaim, "The King is dead, long live the King!" Be careful what you wish for.

To no surprise, as of Thursday evening, Bwin have indeed been taking wheelbarrows full of readies on Pittsburgh as they've trimmed their line by a whole point to 3.5 while BetBright are remaining steadfast, and alone, in offering the Steelers +4.5. I'll be staggered if that remains the case until Sunday. Let's hope they know something we don't.

I hope you all had a happy and memorable Thanksgiving, grabbing the opportunity to take in the feast of football laid out before you, not that you saw much by way of a close contest until Thursday night where the Bears did the Seahawks something of a favour by winning in Green Bay. It's not earth shattering by any means, but, in the predicament Seattle currently finds itself in, including facing up to a very tough opponent this week, such small victories (the cankers and medallions) are to be wholeheartedly embraced.

Shall we finish up with the customary look at a few trends courtesy of Let's...ah, before we do, the site gives us this: ‘To say home field has been huge in recent meetings between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks would be a massive understatement. In the last nine tilts between the clubs, home teams are 8-1 SU.'

Now, aside from wheeling out the criminally underused and underrated ‘tilts', which is a beautiful job on their part, something just nagged away at me that resulted in some research and it's a stat that is both right and wrong all at the same time.

The home team in these, er, tilts, is indeed 8-1 SU in the last nine, but only if you include Super Bowl XL. However, without my mind playing tricks on me, I recall that being akin to a home game for Pittsburgh and, as they were the designated home team that day, let's allow oddsshark their statistical licence. Without including February 5, 2006, the actual SU line for the home team in the last nine is 7-2 and, to go back a little further, it's 10-2 in the last twelve meetings.

Back to those aforementioned trends:

Pittsburgh is 4-1-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road

Pittsburgh is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games on the road

Pittsburgh is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games against Seattle

Pittsburgh is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games against Seattle

Seattle is 3-8-1 ATS in its last 12 games

Seattle is 20-5 SU in its last 25 games at home

Seattle is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games against Pittsburgh at home

As of Saturday morning, BetBright is still the lone wolf in offering Pittsburgh +4.5, a line I find difficult to resist in a contest this tight. This will surely go down to the final two minutes, but every Seahawks game does so, with that heart of yours pounding and those nerves of yours fraying come the second two minute warning on Sunday, just appreciate how alive it makes you feel. Would you want it any other way?

Please gamble responsibly.