And there we were thinking it was all bad. Are the Seahawks really up against Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen this week after what happened against Minnesota last Sunday? That isn't cockiness, just an almost disbelieving relief at what a cruel mistress the football Gods can be. It'll make sense, but more on that in a while.
But just four short weeks ago, Seattle had been outplayed by Arizona and the outlook was apocalyptic to more than a few fans. I can't profess to knowing the percentage probability of the Seahawks making the playoffs on the morning of Monday, November 16, but even 4% would have been considered optimistic by some. Even Russell Wilson had jacked it all in. (Seattle's facing salary cap burial!). What a complete waste of a third round pick. The Seahawks should have drafted Bryan Anger. He was sure to beat out Jon Ryan, who's crap an' all. Aw, they couldn't, of course. Those damned Jaguars. I'd send them to London.
No wonder Wilson lives by (as a sportsman) ‘ignore the noise.' Or does he? Coincidentally or not, he's been the best quarterback in the NFL since the post-Mexico/Cardinals fallout so maybe there was some credence to ‘the noise'. Maybe. That he didn't hear. Because he doesn't listen to it. Maybe.
If Luke Kuechly falls over at home and Wilson isn't there, does it make a sound? Don't know. If Luke Kuechly falls over at home and Wilson is there, does it make a sound? Most definitely not. Thank Heavens that's been cleared up.
Oh, Russ, you utterly amazing, sublime fellow. It can't be reiterated enough just how fortunate we are that Wilson is the quarterback of the Seahawks. Before ever a ball had been snapped to him, he told John Schneider that drafting him was the best move he'd ever made...or words to that effect, but you know the story; he was right.
If Wilson does have the effrontery to ever betray the fan base again virtue of rubbing shoulders with a lean spell, it ain't deliberate. He's only human, just like you and me. Only he isn't like you and me. (That's good news, ain't it?) He is other worldly different. We need to appreciate it. As is often mentioned on Field Gulls, this won't last forever and we'll crave these times and games like the two we've just seen, perhaps in 2017...perhaps in 2016. Don't meet your heroes, so goes the phrase; Wilson is a very safe bet.
I've written this before, but it perhaps bears repeating. Scroll down at your leisure. There's not a single Seahawks fan who would swap Russell Wilson for Andrew Luck. There isn't one, anywhere. However, I'd be willing to bet that that isn't the case with Indianapolis Colts fans. Through the first two years of Luck's career, he had Indy enamoured, despite Wilson securing a ring in his second season. Now? Wilson's turning heads all over again, not that that should be surprising, and a portion of the Colts fanbase will be admiring from afar, through eyes ever so green and teeth ever so gritted. And who's been spelling Luck of late with ferocious aplomb? Only a quarterback who remains, and always will be, immensely popular in Seattle. I'm no fan of the Colts, but I've loved seeing the success Matt Hasselbeck's had. ‘I'm replacing Luck and we're gonna score.'
Jimmy Graham is a delicate topic. Is it so ridiculous to imagine the Seahawks cutting ties with him before the start of next season? I'm talking only about a fully healthy Graham. You may want to tell me I'm being ridiculous, if only for cap reasons*. It's alright, I can take it. However, did we all kinda guess, on the quiet, that it might be addition by subtraction when Graham was lost for the year? I'm in no way glad it happened, Heaven forbid, no, but, with first Marshawn Lynch going down and now Graham, Wilson's taken the offense by the scruff of the neck or, more like, he's been forced to. Like he needed the encouragement.
*I might be wrong, but wouldn't Seattle save $9M (with no dead money) against the cap if Graham is released before June 1 next year?
This all reminds me of the final two drives Wilson engineered in Chicago during his rookie season. This is also something I mention far too much, but I can't apologise for that. For those two drives, this was purely Wilson's team and it's the day he swapped his rookie wings for something far more swankier. The transformation of the offense continued the week after, during the 58-0 massacre of Arizona when even Greg in row Z managed to snare a TD from Wilson against the Cardinals, such was the carnage. The Bills in Toronto happened seven days hence...you get the picture.
The magnificent improvement on the offensive line has proved the biggest difference, but the evolution of the offense this season is little short of fascinating, until we now reach the point where everything and everybody isn't just singing from the same page, they're the whole bloomin' hymn book.
The other magnificent improvement has come at cornerback...as in the guy opposite Richard Sherman, but you know that. Last week's standout play? DeShawn Shead's open field tackle on Stefon Diggs for a 6 yard loss; Shead's play has been revelatory.
Back to those cruel football Gods. To put us through the wringer, such as they have this season, to see the Seahawks rise to 7-5 with the prospect of a Matt Schaub/Jimmy Clausen-led, 4-8 Baltimore Ravens and a home date with the Cleveland Browns up next, this is kinda pinch yourself stuff. This week represents what would be a gargantuan leap towards the playoffs as there's no way Seattle loses to Cleveland. I suppose the whole of New England was thinking that about the Eagles last week (and the Patriots led 14-0), but the Seahawks don't lose to the Browns, particularly with a 14-0 lead.
As of Thursday evening UK time, there's not a single line to be had on this week's game. Now, I'm only going by what's available (or not, in this case) at oddschecker.com, a site that compares a multitude of sportsbooks' odds. No, really. It's clearly down to the uncertainty surrounding Schaub's availability and John Harbaugh himself even mooted the possibility that both Schaub and Clausen may see time on the field this Sunday. However, is Clausen that much of a drop off from Schaub? I understand that oddsmakers don't want to have their fingers burnt in light of how Seattle played last week, but I wouldn't say that Schaub starting over Clausen increases Baltimore's chances by anything like three points or thereabouts.
I had the Seahawks pegged at -8 as of Monday morning, but that's perhaps generous if you fancy the Ravens ATS as, despite a 4-8 (SU) record, they've not lost a game by more than eight points this season and that was in Arizona. At home, their three losses have been by a combined nine points. Seattle has the momentum and the talent to obliterate an eight point spread this week, but a shrewd punter would probably take Baltimore at home and the eight points on offer. Right, as I'm having no joy with oddschecker, let's head over to oddsshark.com. OK, what gives? Make of it what you will because it isn't very helpful.
The actual Seahawks/Ravens page says the line opened at Seattle -5, but that the best line available now is -6 at BetOnline. Fair enough. Over on the right hand side of the page, where each game is listed, there sits two blank spaces where the respective lines should be. The waters then get muddier.
By the way, BetOnline's tagline is ‘Because You Can'. The nonchalance of it. Quite brilliant.
The game's preview, authored by The Wiseguy on Thursday morning, advocates backing Seattle -9. Go figure.
Maybe we'll find something over at walterfootball.com...nope. Walt's own calculated line is the Seahawks -7.5 and he proclaims to be ‘...taking Seattle no matter what', tipping them to win 31-3. What he also gives us is, ‘Clausen, of course, "battled" the Seahawks earlier in the season when he was with the Bears, so I'd love for him to start for comedic purposes.'
Writing somewhat blindly here, it would appear that whatever the line opens at will officially represent the most points that Seattle's been favoured by on the road this season as it's sure to surpass the 5.5 points they were favoured by in Santa Clara in Week 7. This week will also represent the twentieth time that the Seahawks will have been a road favourite in the RWE. Assuming the line could be anything from between -7.5 to -9, let's look at the most relevant spreads from the beginning of the 2012 season.
2014, Week 16: (-9 at Cardinals) WON 35-6
Yep, just the once. However, there's also these, although I don't expect you're going to get your hands on Seattle -7.
2013, Week 8 (-11 at Rams) WON 14-9
2013, Week 15 (-7 at NY Giants) WON 23-0
2014, Week 5 (-7 at Washington) WON 27-17
Finally! Late Thursday evening UK time saw the release of the lines. However, I was too busy drinking to put digit to keyboard. What I wasn't too inebriated to accomplish was to note any movement. The consensus was Seattle -10, but the folks at Sky Bet were having none of it. They'd installed the Seahawks -8. It didn't last long and within an hour they'd joined their bookmaker brethren. However, a little oddly, by Friday morning, the line had come back in to -8.5, a line that Coral and BetBright agree with. Elsewhere, Seattle's -10 or -10.5, but more than a few books are still not showing their hand. Who would ever have thought that the double headed monster of Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen would have compelled oddsmakers to watch events unfold peeping out from behind the sofa?
From what's being predicted, the Ravens will struggle to put up any points on Sunday while Seattle's offensive juggernaut will overpower Baltimore's defense. It's that simple and the Seahawks will waltz into the night with the W. It's never that easy...OK, last week was and I know that Mr. Lathrop was on Seattle "HEAVY", but Minnesota's just run Arizona close on the road after looking beyond abject last Sunday. Even if you'd backed the Cardinals -7.5 earlier in the week (the line was -10.5 at kickoff), you still would've done your brains and -7.5 looked so very tempting. Mr. L?
Am I saying to be wary of this line? My glass isn't half empty for no reason. I want to think that the Seahawks will go out on Sunday and do exactly the same number on the Ravens as befell the Vikings last week and it could happen so, so easily. However, Baltimore has been in every game this season, a narrative us lot know a little about. The Ravens +10.5 is difficult to ignore so I'm on it, but if you fancy Seattle -8.5, Baltimore may just cover via the back door.
Hello again, oddsshark.com:
Seattle is 6-8-1 ATS in its last 15 games
Seattle is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Seattle is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games on the road
Baltimore is 3-7-2 ATS in its last 12 games
Baltimore is 4-9 SU in its last 13 games
Baltimore is 0-4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
Baltimore is 16-7 SU in its last 23 games at home
Baltimore is 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10 games against Seattle
The Ravens have a habit of keeping it close this season. It's Baltimore so it's bound to go down to the wire.
Please gamble responsibly.