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Seahawks at Falcons, NFL playoffs 2017: Betting the divisional matchup

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week’s pick was to hedge your fandom and take the Lions on the money line at an over 3 to 1 payout. It appears that the Seahawks have broken me as a handicapper over the season, but last week’s performance sure did fix me as a fan. The no-booze pledge also continues on for another week.

Just before kickoff last weekend, a flood of money came in on Seattle pushing the betting line up to 10 points in favor of the Seahawks over the Detroit Lions. There could be a few reasons for this: No precipitation at CenturyLink, Matthew Stafford in warmups with a wonky finger, or Earl Thomas III riling up his comrades before the game. It turned out to be a prescient move for those bettors moving the line, as Seattle eventually took over the game in the 4th quarter and easily covered by double digits.

Fast forward to this week and the line is not moving towards the Hawks, but against them. Vegas has instilled the Falcons as the better raptor on this occasion, putting up a line of -3.5 in favor of Atlanta. That line has summarily gotten hammered and crossed the important number 4, settling in at 4.5 as I write this on Monday night.

This is just the third time that the Seahawks have been listed as an underdog this season, with the first being a trip to Foxboro as a 7.5-point dog. That turned out well for us, as Seattle won outright in one of the more satisfying games of the season. The second time was that kiss-your-sister in Arizona as a 2.5-point underdog, a win in my book. I probably shouldn’t bring this up, but the last two playoff runs ended with the Hawks being listed underdogs. They weren’t nearly as high of lines though, as they were just a 1-point dog in the Super Bowl against New England, and a 2.5-point dog against Carolina in the Divisional Round last year. Ok, the reason I bring that up is because it has absolutely no bearing on this game whatsoever.

That said, I like this team much better as an underdog with a chip on their shoulder, playing with house money and nothing to lose. It just fits with the personality of most of the team leaders: Russ, Sherm, ADB, and so on ...

I’m sure the game these teams played in the regular season will be broken down in detail elsewhere by an excellent Field Gulls prognosticator. The only statistic that I’d like to point out is Seattle’s ability to protect the QB against Atlanta, giving up just one sack. On the other hand, the Seahawks got home four times against Matt Ryan in that game, a feat that will need to be repeated and then some for Seattle to win on Saturday. It could be said that Matthew Stafford played a heroic game last weekend, as I counted at least four sacks he avoided by magic and fairy dust. The Seahawks’ defensive line is playing as well as it has all season.

The total on this game has risen quickly from the opening line of 49 to 51.5. That’s what happens when the Seattle offense looks competent and is going up against one of the best offenses in the league. I think that line looks pretty sharp so I’m going to stay away. If the Seahawks team total lands on 24 though, I may take the over against Atlanta’s defense. The Over is 8-0 in the Falcons’ last eight home games, 6-2 in Seattle’s last eight playoff road games, and 5-1 in the last six match ups between these teams. That definitely explains the line movement better than the Seahawks passing the eye test.

There are plenty of ATS trends that look good for Seattle too. First and foremost, Atlanta is 0-6 ATS in their last six playoff games and 1-5 ATS in their last six home playoff games. The road team has dominated this match up ATS, going 4-1 in the last five. Also, the underdog has covered the spread in seven of the last ten meetings between these teams.

So yeah, I’m taking the 4.5-points and Seattle in this game in an action green flash. the Falcons will be rested, ready… and tense. The Seahawks will be ready to atone for the 0-31 start in Carolina last year. At minimum, we’ll have a nail biter, so those points will come in handy. I’ve given up the booze for two weeks already so what’s three at this point. Go Hawks.