Seattle Seahawks (3-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-2)
The Packers get Aaron Rodgers back from a one-game absence this week and they are 7-1 with him this season, but they have more reason to be concerned than it seems. Rodgers is returning, but they remain without three of their best players, edge defender Za’Darius Smith, cornerback Jaire Alexander, and left tackle David Bakhtiari, who have missed most or all of the season. The Packers have still been winning games without them, but they rank just 13th, 10th, and 30th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency and don’t really have any dominant wins.
Just two of their wins came by more than 10 points and those came in games in which the Packers were down at halftime at home to the winless Lions and in which the Packers were outgained at home on a per play basis by a mediocre Washington team. The Packers did go into Arizona and win, but the Packers were very reliant in the turnover battle in that game, losing the first down rate battle by 5.93%, but winning by a field goal in a game in which the Packers won the turnover battle by three.
One of those turnovers was a late interception to seal the game when the Cardinals were in range to at least send the game to overtime, if not win outright. The Packers scored off the Cardinals’ other two takeaways too, so if any one of those turnovers doesn’t happen, the Packers could have easily lost. Given how inconsistent turnover margins are on a week-to-week basis, the Packers can’t count on that again and, given that the Cardinals outperformed the Packers in other key metrics, the Cardinals would likely win a rematch more often than not, so even that was not a dominant win.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, get Russell Wilson back from a three-game absence and might be a little underrated. In fact, I have them as the slightly better of these two teams right now. The Seahawks were just 2-3 with Wilson, but they faced a tough schedule and, even without Wilson, the Seahawks outscored their opponents across 3 games, as they went just 1-2, but had a chance to win both games they lost. Even with Wilson missing half of the season, they rank 17th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, while their defense and special teams rank 19th and 12th respectively.
Despite possibly being the better team right now, the Seahawks are underdogs of more than a field goal in Green Bay. My calculated line has the Packers at -1, so we’re getting significant line value with the Seahawks at +3.5, especially when you consider that about 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. However, I don’t want to bet against the Packers in Green Bay, where they are 47-22 ATS in games in front of fans in which Aaron Rodgers starts and finishes. Rodgers himself has a QB rating that is about 10 points higher at home than on the road, well beyond the average home/road differential. Between that and the uncertainty with both quarterbacks in their first game back, I don’t want to bet this game, but the Seahawks are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Green Bay Packers 23 Seattle Seahawks 21
Pick against the spread: Seattle +3.5