Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1) at New England Patriots (7-1)
Despite a strong 5-2-1 record, the Seahawks have been underwhelming through their first 8 games of the season. Their tie would have been a loss if not for a number of fluky special teams mistakes by the Cardinals, while their only 2 wins by more than 6 points have come against the Jets and 49ers, two of the worst teams in the league. Despite having the 3rd easiest schedule in the league thus far, in terms of opponents’ record, the Seahawks rank just 11th in first down rate differential.
There are reasons to be optimistic for the Seahawks though. For one, they get safety Kam Chancellor back from injury, who they really missed during his 4-game absence. Defensive end Michael Bennett remains out, a huge absence, but at least Chancellor returns to a defense that has still played well despite players missing time. Their offense has been where they’ve had problems, thanks largely to a weak offensive line and a banged up Russell Wilson. However, they looked as good offensively last week as they did all season, as Wilson gets closer to 100%.
The Seahawks have always done very well in the second half of the regular season in the Pete Carroll era (since 2011), going 30-9-1 ATS in games 9-16 since Carroll arrived. This has been very noticeable on the stat sheet for Russell Wilson, as he’s completed 65.9% of his passes for an average of 8.69 YPA, 63 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in the second half of the regular season in his career. Considering how well this organization is run from top to bottom, it doesn’t surprise me they get better as the season goes on. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they went on another second half run.
Despite that, they are 8 point underdogs here in New England. For context, the Seahawks have lost just 2 games in Russell Wilson’s career by more than 8 points, including playoffs, a stretch of 82 games total. Those 2 losses were by 9 points and 10 points, so they weren’t exactly blown out in those games either. The public seems to expect a New England beatdown of the Seahawks, as most of the money is on the favorite this week, but the public is often wrong and always loses money in the long run. This figures to be a close game.
The Patriots are probably the best team in the league right now, given that they are basically completely healthy, but they have also played a very easy schedule, the 2nd easiest in the league in terms of win/loss record. They are in a good spot coming off of a bye, with an easy trip to San Francisco on deck after this one. Touchdown favorites are 56-30 ATS since 2012 before being touchdown favorites again, which the Patriots definitely will be next week against the lowly 49ers. At the same time, this is also a tough spot for them, as it’s a night game against a west coast team. Because of how human sleep cycles work, teams that are used to the western time zone have a major advantage at night against teams used to the eastern time zone, covering about 2/3rds of the time. I thought about making this my Pick of the Week and there’s enough here for me to be confident in the Seahawks as underdogs of 7 or more.
New England Patriots 24 Seattle Seahawks 20
Pick against the spread: Seattle +8