Seattle Seahawks (6-1) at Buffalo Bills (6-2)
The Seahawks are 6-1, but four of their six wins have come by one score, including a pair that came down to fourth down stops against the Vikings and Patriots, and they rank just 12th in schedule adjusted first down rate differential. However, there is reason to expect they will be better going forward. The Seahawks have been carried by their offense, ranking 1st in first down rate over expected at 3.52%, but just 26th in first down rate allowed over expected at -2.15%, and offensive performance tends to be much more consistent on a week-to-week than defensive performance. If the Seahawks can even be an average defense going forward, they’re going to be a very tough opponent.
The Seahawks are also getting a huge boost on the defensive side of the ball this week with stud safety Jamal Adams returning for the first time since week 3, further increasing their chances of being significantly improved defensively going forward. On top of that, the Seahawks have typically been a better team in the second half of the second under Pete Carroll, going 51-31 ATS in week 9-17, as opposed to 41-36 ATS in week 1-8.
All that being said, we’re not getting a ton of line value with the Seahawks as 3-point favorites in Buffalo, even though the Bills won’t have any fans in attendance. I have the Seahawks calculated as 4-point favorites, but the Bills are similar to the Seahawks in that they’ve had a strong offense and an underwhelming defense, ranking 3rd in first down rate over expected at +3.14% and 30th in first down rate allowed over expected at -3.51% and could be significantly better on defense going forward. The Bills have faced an easier schedule than the Seahawks and they aren’t getting much healthier on defense, with top linebacker Matt Milano now missing time for the second stint this season, but they could keep this close. The Seahawks are the pick, but for pick ‘em purposes only.
Seattle Seahawks 35 Buffalo Bills 30
Pick against the spread: Seattle -3