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NFL Odds, Week 9: Seahawks vs. Buccaneers against the spread

Andy Lyons

Seattle covering this week's line of 14.5 would appear to depend on almost one thing; their own line, the one that's supposed to protect Russell Wilson.

Why not begin this with a barb towards what was already a major concern before Monday night. What transpired in St. Louis has been raked over on here throughout the week and doesn't need revisiting from me. We all know the current problem(s). Suffice to say that, now the dust has settled, the Seahawks won on the road against a division rival, a division rival that obviously has Seattle's number. That's pretty big anyway and when mulling over the box score it looks even bigger.

Seattle had no right winning the game by five points (apologies for the sledgehammer), allowing just nine points in the process. However, they did and we move on. The Patriots had the ‘tuck rule' and they moved on, the Steelers had the officials in Super Bowl XL and they moved on. On what is a far, far smaller scale (yet bigger to us, the faithful), the Seahawks didn't require outside help on Monday night; they dialled internally and the secondary answered. Oh, and Bruce Irvin.

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. Offense? We don't need no stinking offense. Should Seattle provide us with the ultimate reward this season, they've played their part in helping to dismantle a mantra I've long loved. Yes, it's a passing league, so goes the idiom, but *give me a 13-10 battle-for-field-position, defensive chess match any given Sunday. Or Monday. Or Thursday.

*I speak, of course, not of watching the Seahawks or when the hard earned is laid down, but when a game matters not to me, when I can sit back and simply enjoy the NFL, much like I did on Thursday night when the Dolphins topped the Bengals.

When writing about the spread in this column, I'm only using stats and figures relative to Wilson being Seattle's starting quarterback. Anything else seems folly and wholly irrelevant and so it is that the Seahawks find themselves staring up at what amounts to a smidgen over a two touchdown handicap this week. The skinniest line is -14.5 (bet365, Skybet, Paddy Power) while those liking their bucks for the Bucs can back them +16 with Youwin.

Straight away, I have to like Tampa Bay and the points and yes, Seattle going 1-3 ATS in its last four makes backing them to win by 15, albeit at home, a risky proposition. For those of you that disagree, please feel free to do so, but I would've been a mite more confident had they had one of Sidney Rice or Percy Harvin in the lineup. This is not to denigrate in any way the contributions made thus far by Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin or Jermaine Kearse, but with the Seahawks already seriously lacking up front offensively, I wince at seeing this team further weakened.

Rice has hardly been pulling up trees this season, but Danny made some pertinent points earlier this week, noting that Rice is "a big target with a giant catch radius and dependable hands, and always seemed reliable for at least one crazy, diving or falling out of bounds catch in a key moment. He's also very underrated for his downfield blocking on screens and runs, and honestly that part of his game may be missed the most."

I feel kinda lazy rehashing something already written on this site this week, but feel it's worth reiterating.

Rice has faced a mountain of criticism from some fans, but my first thought when news came through that he's done for the season was be careful what you wish for. You may just get it. Some Seahawks fans have. I'm just not one of them.

I'm not saying that anybody wished this upon Rice, but I hope you get a sense of the broader point I'm trying to make here.

It'll be somewhat surprising if Seattle is favoured at home as heavily as they were against Jacksonville (-18.5) in Week 3 any time soon, but the 14.5 points they're being asked to cover this week represents the second largest spread at home in the Russell Wilson era. As double digit home favourites since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Seahawks are 2-2 ATS. Here's the breakdown:

2012 Week 14 vs. Cardinals -10

2012 Week 17 vs. Rams -10.5

2013 Week 3 vs. Jaguars -18.5

2013 Week 6 vs. Titans -12.5

The two covers came against the Cardinals and Jaguars. You'll note that the Rams show up there...Seattle's 0-3 ATS against them with Russ at QB. The Seahawks don't face St. Louis again until the final week of the regular season. I think I'd rather the game was sooner.

We all hope Seattle will already have wrapped up home field advantage by that stage, meaning they can go easy on some (banged up) players, but I'm wary of that as I'm not sure the Seahawks would benefit from having almost three weeks' rest between Week 16 and the divisional round of the playoffs.

On the other side of the coin, should they need to beat St. Louis in order to secure home field advantage, that presents an entirely different set of problems, but problems they've at least become accustomed to against a rival that isn't as fierce as San Francisco, just one I fear more. Either way, the Rams make my head hurt. In pure sporting terms however, they do provide immense competition for the Seahawks.

If we Seattle fans thought we had problems come Tuesday morning, Bucs followers could only wish for our predicament. Head coach Greg Schiano could be gone after this one, so goes the popular theory, and it's difficult to see how Tampa are going to keep this one close with a rookie quarterback playing in Seattle for the first time. And I almost forgot to mention the LOB.

This Sunday simply has to be where the Seahawks roar back. Not that they need to make a statement or anything, but since Jacksonville they've only really looked comfortable early on in Indianapolis and for about half the game in Arizona. Still, looking back to last season, Seattle has previous here. The loss to the Dolphins in Week 12 was an unmitigated disaster and the Seahawks (and Wilson in particular) truly came alive on their final drive of regulation in Chicago a week later. The drive for the winning score in overtime (Rice with the TD, no less, where he also got pummelled at the end of the play) created the monster.

Momentum in football can never, ever be underestimated and Seattle is currently grasping the back end of it. They've not even peaked yet and are nowhere near to it at the moment, but it's going to come. Who'd have ever thought we'd be crying out for Breno Giacomini to return at right tackle? I've cursed his stupid and stupider penalties more than any other player, but now I want him back. I need him back. There you go, be careful what you wish for.

Looking at this game in very simple terms, if the crowd can do enough (which they will) to disrupt Mike Glennon, he should struggle mightily. I'm expecting that and the biggest threat on offense is Vincent Jackson. I've always liked Jackson and he may just up his game a little this week because...well, because he knows he has to; a receiver as good as him should be licking his chops at the competition he's facing. Whether or not Glennon can get him the ball and all the while keeping it out of harm's way remains to be seen, but it's probably the game's most important conduit as Seattle won't be fretting too much at the prospect of Mike James running the ball on them. That said, the same thought may have entered their heads when considering the talents of Zac Stacy last week and look what happened there.

You'd strongly suspect that Tampa's coaching staff have pored over the film of Monday night and will surely look to adopt similar schemes, albeit in a limited amount of time. The only minus would be that trades for Robert Quinn and Chris Long never happened.

Over the season, the Buccaneers are 1-6 ATS, 0-3 ATS on the road and 0-2 ATS as a road ‘dog. Yet still I fancy a small wager on them. I expect Glennon to really struggle here and yet still I fancy a small wager on them. I think I'm still burned from what happened in St. Louis, if I'm honest, and am probably offering up terrible advice.

Seattle is 12-2 ATS in its last 14 games at home so why aren't I relying on what is some significant betting history? Pick your poison fellas, but I'm taking the Bucs and the 16 points available.

Please gamble responsibly.

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