Seattle Seahawks (9-4) at Washington Football Team (6-7)
I have bet on Washington in each of the past five weeks and they’ve come through every time. They’ve had one of the better defenses in the league all season and their underrated offense has been able to play complementary football in recent weeks, leading to a 4-1 straight up stretch that now has them atop the NFC East. The big reason for their offensive turnaround has been the insertion of veteran Alex Smith into the starting lineup, but Washington’s offensive line is also significantly healthier than it was earlier this season and is playing well and they’ve gotten good production on the ground as well.
Unfortunately, it looks like those days are coming to an end. Featured running back Antonio Gibson got hurt and missed his first game last week, which was a big blow in a game in which Washington won despite a poor offensive performance, and now Smith will join him on the sideline with a calf issue, leaving Dwayne Haskins, the least effective of their three starting quarterbacks from this season, to start this game against the Seahawks. Washington still has a strong offensive line, but without Smith and Gibson, this offense is going to have a much harder time putting together drives.
The Seahawks’ defense has been a problem this season, ranking 20th in first down rate allowed over expected at +1.02% and holding back a team that ranks 4th in first down rate over expected at +2.76%, but defensive play tends to be much more inconsistent week-to-week than offensive play and the Seahawks have a better chance than most to be improved going forward, as they are significantly more talented than they were earlier this season, with safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Shaq Griffin back in the lineup after missing significant time with injuries and defensive lineman Damon Harrison and Carlos Dunlap added in mid-season acquisitions.
The Seahawks could also get their other starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar back this week from an extended absence, which would be an additional boost to this defense. Even without Dunbar in the lineup, the Seahawks still rank 2nd in my roster rankings and figure to be a force going forward now that they’ve improved their defensive issues, as they typically are in the second half of seasons, going 44-22-3 ATS in weeks 9-16 in the Russell Wilson era, as opposed to 34-34-4 ATS in weeks 1-8.
Unfortunately, we’re not getting great line value with the Seahawks, as this line has shifted from Seattle -3.5 to -6.5 in the wake of Smith’s injury and the Seahawks blowout win over the Jets last week. My calculated line is Seattle -7.5, giving us some line value, especially since about 1 in 10 games are decided by exactly a touchdown, but Seattle isn’t in a great spot, with a much tougher game against the Rams on deck, while Washington has a much easier game against the Panthers. Underdogs cover at a 54.4% rate before playing a team with a 40% or worse winning percentage when their opponent will next play a team with a 60% or better, which is the case here. I’m still taking the Seahawks for pick ‘em purposes, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Seattle Seahawks 24 Washington Football Team 17
Pick against the spread: Seattle -6.5