How unoriginal of me it would be to start with Russell Wilson. Unoriginal perhaps, but never boring.
I could write 2,000 words this week on Wilson, or however long these posts usually are, but won't as a) this is supposedly an Odds article and b) this post will be shorter than normal due to a busier schedule than normal. Christmas come early for you lucky people.
OK, if not Wilson...then Mike Pettine...or Christine Michael? Pettine, if for no other reason than, getting home on Thursday evening having enjoyed a couple of beers with a very good friend of mine, I actually cared enough to see the thoughts of Skip Bayless (don't judge me) on Pettine's comments on Wilson, a chain of events that have been blown way out of proportion. If Pettine rates at least four QBs ahead of Wilson, then what's the problem? We're all entitled to our opinion. I couldn't care less and neither could Wilson, I'm sure. However, I do care enough to hear the thoughts of Bayless, just this once; slippery slope ahead.
Bayless opines that Pettine got it all wrong in what he said...what am I doing? You really couldn't give a toss. However, ESPN really did make me laugh/angry at this segment on the respective merits of Wilson and Johnny Manziel: ‘More Similar Than You'd Think' (underlined...followed by this sub-heading below): Through First 5 Starts of Their Careers (capital letters as stated on the graphic). Manziel ‘leads' Wilson in passing yards, is level with Wilson in TDs (5) and has four INTs to Wilson's six. I'm in no doubt you've seen this, but I honestly can't think of many more occasions in life when I've had my intelligence so insulted. Enraged of England! Livid of London! The BBC is always accused of dumbing down. What possible phrase is there that's lower than that? Yeah, I know a few, but I don't want to be banned.
So, as Wilson and Manziel are so blindingly similar, sorry, more similar than you'd think, the line for this one must be, like, pick ‘em, or something. Maybe Seattle's a slight favourite...yeah, 1 or 1.5 points should nail it. Eh? What's this? The Seahawks are 14 point favourites? But...but...
Enough, as my blood's already boiling.
I now see that, as of Thursday afternoon, Pettine has clarified his remarks on Wilson. He needn't have bothered as it really is nothing.
I'm not overly enamoured by Seattle bringing back Christine Michael, but we know the coaching staff aren't idiots so let's take the ride. Schematically, it makes all the sense in the world and I suppose that Michael is the most Thomas Rawls-y of all available running backs out there, minus the Mike Tyson-esque fearlessness. In what's turning out to be a remarkable NFL season, Michael could end up being back in Washington as Seattle's starting running back on Wild Card weekend. Marshawn Lynch could/should be ready by then, of course, but Michael couldn't be joining a hotter team in the league...plus he knows the entire locker room; he's gotta be pinching himself. We can only hope that this opportunity isn't a case of giving him too much rope.
Going back to Pettine for a second, I like how he wants Cleveland to "cut it loose" this week and to not "curl up in a ball." Not that the current incarnation of the Seahawks craves the practice, but a hollow victory isn't what's needed here. Coach, you get your boys kicking and screaming up in Seattle on Sunday as it's perfect playoff preparation. I'm not implying that the Ws versus the Vikings and Ravens are hollow as they were both simply beaten into submission before the energy to curl up ever took hold.
As far as the spread goes, here's how the Seahawks have fared as a double digit home favourite in the RWE:
2012, Week 14: (-10 vs. Cardinals) WON 58-0
2012, Week 17: (-10.5 vs. Rams) WON 20-13
2013, Week 3: (-18.5 vs. Jaguars) WON 45-17
2013, Week 6: (-12.5 vs. Titans) WON 20-13
2013, Week 9: (-14.5 vs. Buccaneers) WON 27-24 (OT)
2013, Week 11: (-11.5 vs. Vikings) WON 41-20
2013, Week 16: (-10 vs. Cardinals) LOST 17-10
2013, Week 17: (-10.5 vs. Rams) WON 27-9
2014, Week 9: (-15 vs. Raiders) WON 30-24
2014, Week 17: (-11.5 vs. Rams) WON 20-6
2014, Div. Play: (-10.5 vs. Panthers) WON 31-17
2015, Week 3: (-14 vs. Bears) WON 26-0
2015, Week 11: (-11.5 vs. 49ers) WON 29-13
It's an 8-5 record ATS and, as I wrote prior to the home game versus the 49ers four weeks ago, two things stand out. Firstly, Seattle's covered the spread in the last four of those games. Secondly, against teams that were truly dreadful, Seattle's gone 2-3 ATS and I refer to the Jaguars, Titans, Buccaneers, Raiders and Niners. In fact, in hindsight, covering the 10.5 point spread against the Panthers was a helluva feat.
So, the Seahawks are 4-0 ATS as a double digit home favourite in its last four games at home and 4-0 SU and ATS in its last four games overall.
I honestly expect Cleveland to put up much more of a fight than we saw from Minnesota and Baltimore and I hope they do as it prevents Seattle looking ahead to the Rams, who (spoon feeding and old news alert) always make the Seahawks scrap for every yard and every point. Should Seattle win these next two home games, it would make for a dead rubber in Arizona as the No. 5 seed would already be sewn up. But you know that.
Oddsshark.com, what you got?
Well, for starters, they got this: ‘The Cleveland Browns are not good, but you already knew that'. To Justin Hartling, the author, I doff my cap to your brutal honesty, although gloating is not the order of the day here and nor should it ever be.
Cleveland is 1-6-1 ATS in its last 8 games
Cleveland is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games
Cleveland is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Cleveland is 1-8 SU in its last 9 games on the road
Seattle is 16-4 SU in its last 20 games at home
Take the Seahawks to cover the 14 point spread as it's practically impossible to bet against them right now.
Another very good, nay, amazing, friend of mine (you got it, I do only have the two) is a Washington fan (not Huskies). When I say he's a Washington fan, I would honestly bet that he's the biggest Washington fan this side of the pond and I wish I was making this stuff up. So, this week, in response to the fact that the Seahawks could be in D.C. on Wild Card weekend, or NY/NJ or Philly, he said, "...whoever it is will get ruined." Comforting words.
The Browns will fancy their chances at having success when running the ball on Sunday and fair play to them if they hit 100 yards on the ground, as unlikely an outcome as that is. However, the real fascination lies in Manziel's duel with Seattle's once again opportunistic defense and his equally compelling battle with the crowd. A game that looks as appealing as warm beer in July to the casual observer may have more to it than meets the eye.
I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016. Writing for such a sophisticated bunch is both a challenge and a complete joy. I can only hope I'm still doing so the first week in February. It might yet happen.
Remember though, Russell Wilson ain't fit to lace Manziel's cleats.
Please gamble responsibly.