Atlanta Falcons (5-4) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
The Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football last week to improve to 6-3, but their season could be in serious trouble. In cruel irony, the Seahawks, always a vocal opponent of Thursday Night Football for safety reasons, lost stud cornerback Richard Sherman for the season with an achilles tear and stud safety Kam Chancellor for the season with a neck injury in that win over the Cardinals. They’ve already lost talented defensive end Cliff Avril for the season with a neck injury, so this defense is not nearly what it used to be.
On top of that, the Seahawks will also be without talented left tackle Duane Brown, who also went down against Arizona, a big blow to an offensive line with serious problems at other positions. Even before the injury, the Seahawks only ranked 18th in first down rate differential. The Falcons, meanwhile, rank 8th, and have a significant talent edge on paper right now too, even more so than when the Falcons blew out the Seahawks 36-20 in Atlanta last season in the post-season. The Falcons are not as well coached this season, especially on offense, but they still have largely the same personnel.
This one is in Seattle though, which hurts the Falcons’ chances of winning, as does the fact that this is a night game. West coast teams cover about two thirds of the time in night games against East coast teams. In the second half of this game, the Seahawks’ internal clock will be at about 7 PM, while the Falcons will be at 10 PM, which puts them at a significant disadvantage. The Seahawks are also in a big statement game spot given all of their injuries and they tend to be a great second half of the season team (35-14 ATS in regular season games 9-16 in the Pete Carroll era). With only an easy game against the 49ers on deck, the Seahawks have no upcoming distractions and could play one of their best games of the season. I’m still taking the Falcons, but this is a no confidence pick at +3. This seems like a field goal Seattle win.
Update: This line has moved significantly since Saturday because of Kam Chancellor being officially ruled out and heavy public action on the Falcons. The Seahawks are now underdogs of 1.5 points. Given that I still see this as a field goal game, Seattle is now a medium confidence pick. They are 7-2-1 ATS in regular season home primetime games in Russell Wilson’s career and get the added benefit of playing a time that’s flown across the country. They’re also in a great spot with an easy trip to San Francisco on deck.
Seattle Seahawks 27 Atlanta Falcons 24 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Seattle +1.5