Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-4)
The Seahawks are 4-1-1, but have been underwhelming this season. Their defense has been fantastic once again, entering this game 2nd in first down percentage allowed, but their offense ranks just 29th in first down percentage and is coming off of a horrendous offensive showing in last week’s tie in Arizona. The Seahawks’ offense moved the ball a little bit better in overtime, but didn’t cross midfield until a late 4th quarter blocked punt that set up their only score of regulation. They picked up a first down on just 11 of 57 offensive plays in the game. Their defense played incredible, but the Seahawks still needed a number of Arizona special teams mistakes to even get the game to overtime.
The Saints are basically the opposite of the Seahawks, as they have a great offense (3rd in first down percentage), but a terrible defense (32nd in first down percentage allowed). The Seahawks rank 7th in first down percentage differential, while the Saints rank 22nd, but the gap between 1st and 7th is bigger than the gap between 7th and 22nd. There are a bunch of teams bunched up in the middle this season and the Seahawks’ statistical advantages can be largely explained by the fact that they’ve played a pretty easy schedule thus far. The Cardinals were a tough opponent last week, but they didn’t look good against them. Atlanta and Miami both played them tough in Seattle. And their other 3 games came against the Jets, 49ers, and Rams, who are among the worst teams in the league. Their .393 combined opponent record is the easiest strength of schedule in the league.
The Seahawks also come into this game very banged up. Russell Wilson has clearly not been healthy all year, dealing with a number of different injuries behind the worst offensive line in the league. Their offensive line gets even worse this week as the Seahawks will be starting undrafted rookie George Fant at left tackle in place of the injured Bradley Sowell. Sowell is not good at all, but Fant is a collegiate basketball player who hasn’t started a game of football since 8th grade. He played some tight end in college, but figures to be wildly overmatched in his first NFL defense.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks will be without safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Michael Bennett, two of the best defensive players in the league. It doesn’t help matters that the Seahawks are coming off of playing 5 quarters in a tie. Teams are just 5-11 ATS after a tie since 1989, as teams are predictably tired after such a long, hard fought game. This line is way too high at 3 in favor of the visiting Seahawks. With the Seahawks as banged up as they are, I’d argue the Saints should be favored in this game, but we’re getting a full field goal; 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. The Saints are also in a great spot, with an easy trip to San Francisco on deck; they don’t have any upcoming distractions on the schedule. Home underdogs are 76-43 ATS since 2002 before being road favorites. The Saints are my Pick of the Week at 3 and I’d still take them at 2 or 2.5.
New Orleans Saints 27 Seattle Seahawks 24 Upset Pick +120
Pick against the spread: New Orleans +3
Confidence: Pick of the Week