Russell Wilson, permission duly granted to play when sick more often. You can be...no, you are, quite something.
You're fully aware of the relevant statistics spawned from Wilson's last two performances and, once again, he rubber stamps just how super important he is to this franchise. Naturally. As an example of how not to judge Wilson based largely, but not solely, upon what was a lousy outing against the Cardinals, an article appeared on PFT five days after the Arizona defeat citing criticism of Wilson, including a perceived slight from the coaching staff. A comment was then posted from somebody with lofty expectations of Wilson, something not out of the ordinary. However, what was written was. I can't and won't include everything so as not to crush their pride (like he'd be reading this), but it closed with, 'If you can't produce, and yes I put most of it on you, then take a hike.' Er, to be replaced by whom, Mister? I can only assume he's been a fan since 2012.
Not that Seattle's recent success can be attributed to Wilson alone, but he plays the most important position on the team, is an outstanding leader of men, a supreme athlete, sets example upon example and has barely been allowed to stay on his feet this season. I apologise, I'm spoon feeding. I'm done with Russ...not in the 'take a hike' sense.
Last Sunday was just bananas. Plain bonkers. And utterly riveting. Sky Sports in the UK proclaimed the Seahawks/Steelers matchup to be the best they'd featured this season. I would have thought so, too, and I doubt it's even close. It had pretty much everything, right? Yep, it had pretty much everything. Right.
You will all have read on Field Gulls, and elsewhere of course, accounts of the lunacy that transpired at CenturyLink last week and nothing I could add here would benefit anybody, suffice it to say that I've missed euphoria of late, an emotion that hit when you realised Doug Baldwin was going to cover those 80* beautiful yards unhindered, stiff arm notwithstanding. Jermaine Kearse might rule the universe of Seahawks-receptions-that-will-last-a-lifetime-in-the-memory, but Baldwin is more fondly thought of, at least in my own universe. Marshawn Lynch is destined not to be a Seahawk for too much longer, but it'll be monumentally rubbish when Baldwin no longer represents a cog in Seattle's wheel.
*Baldwin actually caught the ball at Seattle's 30 yard line on an 80 yard play, but the route he took to Pittsburgh's goal line easily covered 80 yards; 84, who knows?
Baldwin was visibly not what we've come to expect from him during his press conference after the game last week. He'd just sealed victory for the Seahawks in spectacular fashion yet could barely muster the enthusiasm to answer any questions. I suppose that tells you all you need to know about the impact of Jimmy Graham's injury. At least that's what I took away from it.
Pete Carroll was particularly effusive in his praise of the Steelers, more than he normally is about any opponent and he clearly has a lot of respect for the franchise. Fair play. He's no mug, he knows his stuff/history and it is difficult not to admire the Pittsburgh Steelers from afar. Regardless of what happened ten Super Bowls ago, a strong Pittsburgh Steelers makes for a stronger NFL. Proof of that, if you like (loosely, I know), is last Sunday going down as one of the most memorable games in Seahawks franchise history. Wasn't it? It'll be a complete joy to revisit whenever the requisite time happens to present itself once the Seahawks' season is over.
I was losing it when Seattle trailed 21-14 in the third quarter last week, even tweeting some nonsense that the Seahawks would neither outscore nor outlast the Steelers. I truly am the idiot. That they did by nine points was quite the achievement and how refreshing it was to see Seattle finally beat a quality opponent with a quality quarterback for longer than 45 game minutes. Last week felt like a playoff game...it was, I suppose, arguably, as defeat could have been brutal for their chances of taking the field in January. Not that these current Seahawks aren't aware of what the playoffs feel like, but this week could be a dress rehearsal for Wild Card weekend, which should make us thankful the Pittsburgh Steelers rocked up when they did. As you will undoubtedly know, if the playoffs began this week, Seattle would indeed be travelling to Minnesota, a matchup the Vikings would be dreading. That fear won't be there this week as a loss to the Seahawks doesn't bring their season crashing to a close.
So, we got a pick 'em game this week, have we? As early as Tuesday afternoon, Seattle finds itself marginally favoured over at BetBright, by the smallest amount possible, the ol' half point, which amounts to no line at all, unless the NFL ever decides to introduce the scoring of a quarter of a safety, whatever that may look like. I hear ya and will stop right there.
Again, as of Tuesday, for those who foresee a Seattle let down after the emotional victory over Pittsburgh, Minnesota can be backed +1.5 points, or you might just want to back them SU as you'll get slightly better odds. Yes, this week is playoff prep, but the possibility of the Seahawks perhaps coming out a little flat can't be discounted and you can also chuck in the 10:00 AM PST start as a factor that may contribute to them lacking some verve, at least initially. This is purely conjecture, I know, but I've lost money down the years backing a team ATS after a big win and expecting the same level of performance seven days later. If you feel supremely confident in backing Seattle this week, caveat emptor.
The Seahawks are, admittedly, on the smallest of rolls, something that could easily snowball and who would have thought that could be written if, before the season began, you were told that Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham would miss December, and Graham more than that.
Having taken a two day break from this post and the odds that accompany it, the line's changed a little as of Thursday evening. Seattle is still favoured by 0.5 at BetBright, Coral and Sky Bet, but Minnesota +1.5 has now become +0.5. Yes, it's minuscule yet massive in a contest where the oddsmakers are at er, odds with each other. The Seahawks are available +1.5 points at 32Red so, yep, the line's all over the place with Seattle actually covering a whole two point spread from -0.5 to +1.5. My advice for what it's worth? Just back the team you like SU. No, the Seahawks +1.5...aw, do both.
Wow, since the beginning of the 2012 season, Seattle has never been a 1.5 point road underdog. OK, that's only a half truth as they were 1.5 point ‘dogs against New England in the Super Bowl, but that's a neutral venue...but it's technically still on the road. That is the sole occasion it's happened in the RWE. The only other two occasions where the line's been anything similar happened in consecutive weeks last season, in Santa Clara and Philadelphia, where the Seahawks were 2 point underdogs on both occasions; they twice covered the spread handsomely.
To stretch matters a little, if you'd like to see the run where Seattle's been a 2.5 point road underdog including Super Bowls with Russ under center, here you go:
2012, Week 8: (+2.5 at Lions) LOST 28-24
2013, Super Bowl: (+2.5 vs. Broncos) WON 43-8
2014, Week 11: (+2.5 at Chiefs) LOST 24-20
Two four point losses (6.5 point losses) and one gazillion point victory. It's little to go on for this Sunday, a 3-2 record ATS when a road ‘dog between 1.5 and 2.5 points over three and a half plus a little bit seasons. Just go with your gut this week. I do think Seattle will come out a tad flat (not rusty) and will shake it off, as Taylor Swift always instructed.
Why the optimism? Like I just wrote, go with your gut on this one, not that Minnesota will fear a Seahawks offense much that is suddenly looking rhythmic in averaging 33.333 etc. points per game over its last three. The Vikings are giving up a measly 17.6 PPG this season, second only to Cincinnati's 17.5. Oh, boy, you know it's going down to the final drive or two again on Sunday.
The oldest news in Seattle this week is that the Seahawks are gonna see a healthy dose of Adrian Peterson on Sunday as Minnesota averages 146.4 rushing YPG, but not so fast our Hutch-stealing friends from the Norse...2.2 rushing YPG behind you comes Seattle and, as balanced offenses go, these two teams aren't even close. That's rubbish analysis, yep, but maybe I'm in shock at what I've just read over at walterfootball.com, namely that Teddy Bridgewater is 9-3 ATS at home. However, you might argue that that's countered by the fact (same website) that Russell Wilson is 10-3 ATS in the regular season as an underdog. Yeah, he might be, but, in my docket, he's 9-3-1 ATS in those games, the tie coming in Cincinnati this season. Including the playoffs, Wilson is 11-4-1 ATS as an underdog. Go with your gut this week. (You might wanna think about that Russell Wilson record for a second. What can possibly go wrong...?)
Right, as of Saturday morning, the line has gone barmy in the last 36 hours. Oddsmakers are laying the Seahawks. Large. Where Seattle was a 1.5 point underdog at 32Red on Thursday evening, the same firm now lists them as a 2.5 point favourite. Without over egging the pudding, they must have taken an astronomical amount of money on the Seahawks to bring the line in a whole four points. Either that or the original line was put up in error, which is highly unlikely. Backing that up is the activity that's taken place elsewhere.
Coral and Sky Bet have also changed their stance, squeezing the line in from Seattle -0.5 to -2.5. The betting public are loving themselves some Seahawks and you'd think the line will settle down now. I've never known a Seattle spread be so erratic, but here's a thing, too. William Hill goes Seahawks -2 with both teams priced at 10/11. However, they're also offering Seattle +1.5 at evens, or 1/1 as you might know it. Now, THAT could have been put up in error because, SU, William Hill have the Seahawks 10/13 (Vikings 11/10). Why on earth would you back Seattle SU at 10/13 when you can have them with a 1.5 point start at evens? It's nonsensical, but who are we to complain? To me at least, this line has proved fascinating.
Oddsshark.com, over to you:
Minnesota is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games
Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
Minnesota is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
Minnesota is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games at home
Seattle is 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road
Last week was barmy. This line is barmy. Strap yourselves in.
Please gamble responsibly.