Seattle Seahawks (5-3) at Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
The Seahawks lost at home to a banged up Redskins team last week, causing this line to drop from 7 in favor of the Seahawks on the early line last week to 6 this week. That might not seem like a huge line movement, but 7 is a key number because about 9% of games are decided by 7 points exactly, making it the 2nd most common margin of victory, behind 3 (15%). It’s also a bit of an overreaction because the Seahawks won the first down battle in that game 22 and 16 and would have won the game (which they ended up losing by 3) had they not missed 3 makeable field goals. If the Seahawks win last week, even in a close one, I think this line stays put at 7.
The Cardinals won in San Francisco last week, but, with all of their injuries, the 49ers are arguably the least talented team in the league this year, so that wasn’t a terribly impressive win. The Cardinals were able to establish their running game with Adrian Peterson, which allowed them to hide quarterback Drew Stanton, who is filling in for an injured Carson Palmer. That gameplan won’t be as successful this week because the Seahawks have a much better run defense and, if Seattle gets up big early, they won’t be able to keep their play calling as conservative (43 runs to 30 passes against the 49ers). Peterson could also be worn out on a short week, after getting 39 touches last week, most ever by a running back over 30. Peterson is obviously a freak of nature, something he’s proven time and time again, but 60+ touches in 5-day stretch is a lot for any running back, especially one over 30.
Despite their loss last week, the Seahawks are still one of the better teams in the league, especially now that they have an actual left tackle after acquiring Duane Brown from the Texans at the trade deadline. They’re also healthier this week than last with Sheldon Richardson returning from a one-game absence. Earl Thomas remains out, but he won’t be needed as much in this game because of the Cardinals’ quarterback situation. The Cardinals were a below average team even before the Palmer injury and Stanton is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now. He hasn’t completed more than 50% of his passes or had more touchdowns than interceptions in a season since 2013 and he has a career QB rating of 65.9. We’re not getting enough line value with the Seahawks to take them confidently, but they should be the right pick as long as the line is lower than a touchdown.
Also, by request, I’m going to be posting lines I lock in early in the week during my Thursday Night writeups this season, so readers can lock them in before they move. These are not all my picks for the week, just picks where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction (usually underdogs). The rest of the writeups will continue to be posted over the weekend as normal.
NO -2.5 @ BUF (I would NOT take -3)
DAL +3.5 @ ATL (I would also take +3)
LAC +4.5 @ JAX (I would also take +4 and +3.5)
Seattle Seahawks 17 Arizona Cardinals 9
Pick against the spread: Seattle -6