Dec 152012
 

Seattle Seahawks (8-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-8)

The Seahawks have the biggest home/road disparity over the last few years. They are 23-43 ATS on the road and 46-20 ATS at home since 2005. This year, they are a perfect 6-0 ATS at home, including 3-0 SU as home dogs, but on the road they are 3-4 ATS. That might not sound bad, until we take a closer look.

Two of those covers were in their 2nd straight road game and teams generally cover as road dogs off a road loss. The Seahawks are an even worse 16-31 ATS on the road directly after a home game since 2005, a situation they’re in this week. The other cover was a 7 point loss in San Francisco as 7.5 point dogs, which should have been a 9 point loss and non-cover, but Jim Harbaugh strangely declined a safety. They still struggled mightily offensively, scoring just 6 points and it was on a Thursday Night, when weird stuff happens.

The point remains, the Seahawks are not a good road team. They are 1-3 ATS on the road off a home game this year, with that one cover being the San Francisco game and more importantly, they are 0-3 ATS and SU as road favorites this year. Since 2005, they are 6-12 ATS as road favorites. Russell Wilson completes 61.3% of his passes for an average of 8.7 YPA, 12 touchdowns, and 1 interception at home, but 64.1% for an average of 6.8 YPA, 8 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions on the road.

At first glance, we are getting line value with Seattle. The Seahawks rank 5th in net points per drive at 0.61, while the Bills rank 26th at -0.41. If you take the difference and add multiply by 11 (the average amount of drives per game) and add 2.5 points to Buffalo’s side for home field, you get that Seattle should be favorites of 8.5.

That holds up somewhat to DVOA, as Seattle rank 2nd in both regular and weighted and Buffalo ranks 21st in regular and 17th in weighted (more on that later). Both teams are noticeably better in DVOA than net points per drive, though Buffalo slightly more so. As well as that, Seattle’s consistent road struggles need to be taken into account. On the road, they get outscored by 6 points per game and at home they outscore teams by 7 points per game over the past 7 years. Instead of using 2.5 for home field, we should use 6.5. If we do that, the real line is at -4.5 and that doesn’t take into account that Buffalo is playing solid football right now and has a decent weighted DVOA.

Since the bye, they lost by 12 against Houston in Houston, but should have covered the 10.5 point spread if not for a missed easy field goal. The next week, they lost by 6 in New England as 11 point dogs and were actually driving for a potential game winning score late. They then won against Miami at home and lost by a special teams touchdown in Indianapolis. They followed that up by blowing out the Jaguars and losing to an also underrated Rams team at home in a game they led most of the way.

Ever since Mario Williams had that minor wrist surgery during the bye, he’s been playing so much better and they’ve consequently held 5 of their last 6 opponents under 21. As a result, they have been competitive in all 6 games. Seattle, meanwhile, is without stud cornerback Brandon Browner with a suspension. They obviously didn’t miss him against Arizona because their quarterbacks are so terrible, but Ryan Fitzpatrick can take advantage of holes in a secondary if there are some. The line doesn’t take that into account, I believe.

The Seahawks are also potentially in a bad spot as teams are 33-63 ATS as non-conference favorites before being divisional dogs since 2002, including 2-9 ATS as road non-conference favorites before being home divisional dogs. If we go back to 1989 to get a larger sample size, that trend is 3-17 ATS. The Panthers lost in Kansas City in this spot a few weeks ago. The early line for next week has the Seahawks as 1 point home dogs for the 49ers next week, which would count. They may end up being favorites when all is said and done, but you can’t deny that they might overlook “crappy,” unfamiliar, non-conference Buffalo with that game next on the schedule.

We’re also getting a major overreaction line here as the Seahawks were just -3 a week ago and now they’re -6. I’m not surprised they blew out the Cardinals at home. They’re a good home team. Did we forget they lost in Miami two weeks ago despite having a 22-3 ATS trend on their side (road favorites off a bye)? This has given us line value and, in spite of this, the public is pounding Seattle and the public always loses money in the long run. On top of that, the Seahawks are in a potentially very bad spot.

It’s worth noting that this game is in Toronto, not Buffalo, where the Bills play one home game per year. That may have an impact, but they’ve never really played noticeably worse there than at home, granted in a small sample size. Toronto isn’t that far away and there’s lots of Bills fans there. I’m also worried about getting in the way of Seattle right now, especially since one team goes from out of the playoffs to a first round bye every season and the only way that happens this year is if Seattle or Chicago win out. However, +6 is just too good to pass up. I’m very grateful for that huge line movement. It gives us enough room that, even if Seattle wins, the Bills could very well cover.

Public lean: Seattle (70% range)

Seattle Seahawks 20 Buffalo Bills 17

Pick against spread: Buffalo +6 (-110) 3 units

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