Seattle Seahawks (7-5) at Baltimore Ravens (4-8)
The Seahawks are just 7-5, but they’ve lost to tough opponents like the Packers, Bengals, Cardinals, and Panthers (all 4 losses were within 10 points) and they’ve won 5 of their last 6. The Seahawks are relatively healthy right now. They’re missing defensive tackle Jordan Hill and running back Marshawn Lynch, but Hill isn’t that important and rookie phenom Thomas Rawls (5.57 YPC) has run much better than Lynch this season (3.76 YPC), as Lynch has been banged up all year. They once again seem to have hit their stride late in the season, as they have in every year of the Pete Carroll era (since 2011). They are 24-6 ATS in the last 8 games of the regular season over that time period and they’re in a good spot to cover again this week.
While the Seahawks host the Browns next week, against whom they’ll be favored by 13.5 points, according to the early line, the Ravens host the Chiefs, against whom they’ll be underdogs of 5 points. Road favorites are 90-65 ATS before being favored again when their opponent will next be underdogs, since 2012. Going even further into it, favorites of 6+ (like the Seahawks this week) before being favorites of 6+ again (like the Seahawks next week) are 80-42 ATS since 2012, as superior teams tend to take care of business without an upcoming distractions. On the Ravens’ side, teams are 45-84 ATS before being home favorites of 4+and 23-55 ATS before being home favorites of 6+, since 2012. On top of this, road favorites off of a road win (like the Seahawks) are 45-32 ATS since 2008, as long as they are in their 2nd of two road games.
All of that being said, this line is way too high at 12. That’s a major shift from last week, when the Seahawks were favored by just 4.5 on the early line. I love fading significant line movements whenever they make sense as they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play. The line movement does make some sense. The Seahawks are coming off of a huge victory (38-7 in Minnesota). and the Ravens are pretty banged up, missing quarterback Matt Schaub, left tackle Eugene Monroe, and tight end Crockett Gillmore (in addition to all of the major players they have on injured reserve like quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Dennis Pitta, and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs).
Jimmy Clausen will start for the Ravens, after being signed mid-season from the Bears. He started for the Bears in Seattle earlier this year, in Jay Cutler’s absence, and the Bears picked up just 7 first downs in that one, not a surprise, considering Clausen is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. He doesn’t have much talent around him and I don’t expect the Ravens to move the ball easily, but the Ravens’ defense has played well this season, especially of late. They rank 12th in rate of moving the chains allowed, despite the injury to Suggs and off-season losses of Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee. That’s a big part of the reason why the Ravens haven’t lost by more than 8 all season, a trend I could definitely see them continuing this week. The Seahawks rank 6th in rate of moving the chains differential, but the Ravens rank 22nd and, even as banged up as they are, they still should be the right side when getting this many points. I just can’t bring myself to put money on it.
Seattle Seahawks 16 Baltimore Ravens 6
Pick against the spread: Baltimore +12