Seattle Seahawks (5-0) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
The Seahawks are 5-0, but four of their five wins have come by one score. That isn’t anything new for the Seahawks, who have 14 wins by one score or less over the past two seasons, as opposed to 2 losses in one score games. In fact, in games decided by more than one score, the Seahawks are just 2-3 over the past two seasons. A team’s record in close games tends to even out in the long run and, while it might make sense that an elite quarterback like Russell Wilson could consistently pull out close victories, even elite quarterbacks don’t consistently win close games and, before the start of last season, Wilson was just 30-34 in his career in one score games.
Wilson is arguably playing as well as he ever has in his career right now, but even still, the Seahawks aren’t winning easily. Wilson probably won’t play quite this well all season, so the Seahawks will need their defense to play better to compensate or they could very easily start losing some of these games. They’re capable of playing better defensively, but it probably won’t be until they get stud safety Jamal Adams back from injury, which won’t be this week. That’s a problem for the Seahawks, who will be on the road for a key divisional game against the Cardinals, who sit just a game and a half back in the standings right now.
The Cardinals haven’t played a tough schedule, but they’ve won the first down rate battle in 5 of their 6 games, including a 3-point loss to the Lions in which they won the first down rate battle by 10.50%, but lost the turnover margin by 3. The Cardinals rank 2nd in the NFL in first down rate differential at +6.10% and, even adjusted for schedule, they rank 6th at +3.61%. They’re probably overachieving right now, particularly on defense, and could regress, but even still, they’re certainly the kind of team that can give the Seahawks a competitive game and even pull the upset as home underdogs.
I have this line calculated at Seattle -1.5, so we’re getting good value with the Cardinals as 3.5-point home underdogs. The Seahawks are in a good spot coming off of a bye and road favorites of 3 or more are 75-40 ATS off of a bye since 1989, but I don’t know if that should apply, given that this line is too high. It’s enough to deter me from making a bigger play, because good teams often come out of their bye improved, but the Cardinals are still worth a bet, especially since they’re in their own good spot off of a blowout Monday Night Football win, as teams are 64-42 ATS since 1989 off of a MNF win by 21 or more points.
Seattle Seahawks 34 Arizona Cardinals 33
Pick against the spread: Arizona +3.5