Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks: 2018 Week 14 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5)

The Seahawks are now 7-5 after a 0-2 start, but this is far from a vintage Seahawks team. Their offense has been solid, ranking 13th in first down rate at 38.09% and improving as the season has gone along, but their defense is far from what we’re used to from them, as they rank 26th, allowing opponents to pick up first downs at a 39.33% rate. Their defense has played tied for the 2nd fewest snaps in the league with 71, as a result of the offense going 9 of 12 on 4th down on the season and only turning over the ball 9 times, fewest in the NFL, but 4th down percentages and turnovers tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t always be able to depend on that making life easier for their defense.

The Vikings have had a disappointing season at 6-5-1, but they’re healthier now than they were earlier in the season and they rank higher than the Seahawks both in my roster rankings and in first down rate differential, in which they rank 16th at +0.19%. This line suggests these two teams are about even, with the hometown Seahawks favored by a field goal, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the visitors. It’s not enough for the Vikings to be worth betting, but they should be the right side.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Minnesota Vikings 23

Pick against the spread: Minnesota +3

Confidence: Low

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks: 2018 Week 13 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (2-9) at Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

The Seahawks have a solid record at 6-5, but this is not nearly the Seahawks team we’ve seen in recent years. Despite their record, they rank 22nd in first down rate differential at -2.78%. Their offense has been solid, moving the chains at a 37.03% rate, 14th in the NFL, but their defense, a shell of its former self, has allowed opponents to move the chains at a 39.81% rate, 27th in the NFL. Their defense has been on the field for fewer snaps than any defense in the league, as a result of the offense going 9 of 12 on 4th down on the season and only turning over the ball 9 times, fewest in the NFL, but 4th down percentages and turnovers tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t always be able to depend on those to make life easy for their defense.

Given that, this line is a little high at 10. The 49ers have major issues at the quarterback position, but they have a capable defense (17th in first down rate allowed) and a strong running game. They’re just 2-9 largely because of their -17 turnover margin, 2nd worst in the NFL, but, like I said, turnovers tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Given their quarterback situation, it wouldn’t surprise me if the 49ers continued turning the ball over frequently, but their defense should have more takeaways than they’ve had (5 in 11 games) just from random chance alone. We’re not getting enough line value to bet the Seahawks, but this line is a few points too high.

Seattle Seahawks 24 San Francisco 49ers 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +10

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (5-5) at Carolina Panthers (6-4)

A couple weeks ago, the Panthers were 6-2 and were seen as one of the better teams in the league, but they got blown out in Pittsburgh and then lost in Detroit to a last place Lions team, dropping them down to 6-4. As a result of last week’s loss in Detroit, this line shifted from Carolina -4.5 to Carolina -3, a significant shift, given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly. I think that line movement is an overreaction, as the Panthers would have won that game in Detroit if not for issues in the kicking game, which had not been an issue for them previously.

This line probably would have been closer to 6.5 or 7 a few weeks ago, before Carolina’s blowout loss in Pittsburgh. That was obviously a bad loss, but the Steelers are a legitimately good team and the Panthers were likely just caught off guard on the road on a short week against a strong team. The Panthers also been much better at home than on the road this season, going just 1-4 on the road, but 5-0 at home, with an average margin of victory of 9.8 points per game. Home/road variances tend to be random more than anything, but the Panthers have definitely been better this season than they’ve shown in the past couple weeks. Now back at home, they’re underrated as mere field goal favorites over the Seahawks.

This line suggests these two teams are about even, but I have the Panthers a few points better than the Seahawks, who have been an average team at best this season, ranking just 21st in first down rate differential at -1.93%. The Panthers, meanwhile, rank 13th at +1.24%, despite an underwhelming couple of weeks. I think this line should be closer to the -6.5 or -7 it likely would have been a couple weeks ago. The Panthers are a smart play this week as field goal favorites.

Carolina Panthers 27 Seattle Seahawks 20

Pick against the spread: Carolina -3

Confidence: High

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks: 2018 Week 11 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (4-4-1) at Seattle Seahawks (4-5)

These two teams have similar records, but the Packers have been the better team this season, as the Seahawks have been overly reliant on winning the turnover margin. They are +8 on the season, tied for 3rd best in the NFL, but turnover margin tends to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t be able to count on that every week, especially against top level quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers. In the past two weeks, they’ve had an even turnover margin facing Philip Rivers and Jared Goff, after facing a relatively easy slate of quarterbacks to begin the season. In terms of first down rate differential, the Packers are significantly ahead, ranking 12th at 1.43%, while the Seahawks rank 22nd at -2.33%.

The Packers are also in the better injury situation. While the Seahawks will once again be without linebacker KJ Wright (as well as injured reserved safety Earl Thomas), the Packers have been a lot better defensively since getting Jaire Alexander back from injury a few weeks ago. Aaron Rodgers is also healthier than he was earlier in the season, while running back Aaron Jones has broken out as their lead back, after being suspended for the first two games of the season. They played arguably their best game of the season last week at home against Miami, winning the first down rate battle by 16.67%, an impressive number even against an underwhelming team like the Dolphins.

This line suggests these two teams are about even, favoring the hometown Seahawks by a field goal, so we’re getting significant line value with the visitoring Packers. The Packers’ 0-4 road record worries me a little, but if you look at those games, they should have won in Detroit, where Mason Crosby melted down and couldn’t hit a kick, and two of those losses came against the Rams and Patriots, two of the better teams in the league, in games the Packers were in late.

I’m more worried about the track record of non-divisional road underdogs on Thursday Night Football (15-34 ATS), as it’s very tough to travel on a short week and face a relatively unfamiliar opponent (unless you have enough of a talent advantage to be favored). I know Rodgers has faced off against the Seahawks a bunch of times, but this is close to a completely remade Seahawks roster, so he won’t benefit from that familiarity factor on a short week. That being said, there’s still too much line value to pass on here with the Packers, who you could argue should be favored by a couple points in this one (making that aforementioned trend less relevant). At the very least, this should be an even line. Both the spread (at +3) and moneyline are worth small bets in this one.

Final Update: I’m staying with a medium confidence pick, but I did discover one stat that should make Packer bettors feel more confident. The Packers are the 18th team to be undefeated at home and winless on the road week 8 or later in the past 30 years. The previous 17 are 9-8 straight up (10-6-1 ATS) in their next road game. It’s a small sample size, but home/road variances tend to be random more than anything, so I wouldn’t expect the Packers to struggle on the road in this one just because they’re 0-4 on the road.

Green Bay Packers 24 Seattle Seahawks 23 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +3

Confidence: Medium

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams: 2018 Week 10 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (4-4) at Los Angeles Rams (8-1)

The Rams have not had many blowout victories lately, with just one double digit win in their last 6 games. That’s understandable when you look at their schedule though. They’ve played just one of their last five games at home and their last two home games came against the Vikings and Packers, a pair of strong opponents. Prior to that, they had blow out home victories over the Cardinals and Chargers and they also have a pair of blowout wins on the road in Oakland and San Francisco.

This week could easily be another double digit win over the Rams, now back home against the Seahawks. Seattle isn’t a bad team and they’ve gotten better since getting linebacker KJ Wright back from injury, but they still rank 25th in first down rate differential at -3.39% on the season. They have a 4-4 record, but that’s largely as a result of a +9 turnover margin (3rd in the NFL). Turnover margins are incredibly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so that’s not something they’re going to be able to count on going forward, especially against top teams like the Rams.

The Seahawks played the Rams close in their first matchup, losing 33-31, but that game was in Seattle and the Seahawks lost despite winning the turnover battle by +2. The Rams had 30 first downs to 20 for the Seahawks and outgained them by about 100 yards. On average, teams that win the turnover margin by 2 have a -0.1 turnover margin in a same season rematch. Unless the Seahawks can win the turnover margin again, the Rams should be able to defeat them with ease now back in Los Angeles.

That being said, I’m not betting the Rams for three reasons. For one, there will likely be a ton of Seahawk fans at this game, much like there were a lot of Packer fans there a couple weeks ago. For that reason, you could argue that the Rams won’t quite have true homefield advantage in this one. The second reason is that they have a much bigger game in Mexico City against the AFC leading Chiefs next week, so this could be a little bit of a look ahead spot, even against a hated division rival. The third reason is that the Rams cancelled practice on Friday because of the wildfires, which could be a distraction this week. The Rams should be the right side, but this isn’t worth betting.

Los Angeles Rams 27 Seattle Seahawks 15

Pick against the spread: LA Rams -9.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle Seahawks: 2018 Week 9 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (5-2) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

I was hoping the Chargers would get Joey Bosa back from injury following their week 8 bye because I think with him healthy they are a legitimate contender, but would likely not be considered one by the general public, giving us some deflated lines with them. Bosa is expected to still need a few more weeks though and, at the very least, is out for this game in Seattle. Despite that, I still like the Chargers a lot this week as 1.5 point road favorites. Even without Bosa, the Chargers rank 5th in first down rate differential at +4.48%. Their defense has been underwhelming, ranking 20th in first down rate allowed at 37.33%, but their offense has been strong with Philip Rivers playing as well as he ever has and plenty of weapons around him, picking up first downs or touchdowns on 41.81% of offensive snaps.

Making that even more impressive is the fact that they basically have no homefield advantage, as their home games are usually overtaken by visiting fans. Going into Seattle is no easy task, but the Chargers are used to playing well in hostile environments and are 31-20-3 ATS away from home since 2012. This is also far from the same Seattle team we are used to, as a result of all their defensive losses. They are 4-3 and have won 4 of 5, with their one loss in that span coming by 2 points to the Rams, but they’ve also benefited from a +10 turnover margin, which they are not necessarily going to be able to rely on going forward, given how inconsistent turnovers are week-to-week. In first down rate, they rank just 24th at -3.15%, with both their offense and defense ranking below average.

This is also a much better spot for the Chargers than the Seahawks, as the Chargers follow this game with a trip to Oakland to play the hapless Raiders, while the Seahawks have to go to Los Angeles and take on the currently undefeated Rams. Underdogs are 84-51 ATS before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, as teams tend to be much more focused with an easier game on deck rather than a harder one that could potentially be a distraction. I know we’re only getting a point and a half with the Chargers, but the logic stands, as that game in Los Angeles has likely been circled on the calendar by the Seahawks for months. Last time they played the Rams, they almost lost in Arizona the week prior. We’re also getting good line value with the Chargers, who I have calculated as 3-point road favorites in this game, so the Chargers are an obvious choice in this one.

Los Angeles Chargers 24 Seattle Seahawks 20 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: LA Chargers +1.5

Confidence: High

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions: 2018 Week 8 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Detroit Lions (3-3)

The Seahawks got off to an 0-2 start, but have won 3 of their last 4, with their one loss coming by just 2 points against the undefeated Rams. They’re also healthier coming out of the bye with outside linebacker KJ Wright, defensive end Dion Jordan, and possibly defensive end Rasheem Green set to return from extended absences. That being said, they are still statistically one of the worst teams in the league, ranking 26th in first down rate differential at -3.44%. Their 3-3 record is largely the result of a +7 turnover margin, but turnover margins tend to be inconsistent week-to-week, so the Seahawks won’t be able to rely on that every week, especially with their team leader in takeaways Earl Thomas out for the season.

The reinforcements the Seahawks get back from injury this week will help, but the Lions added stud run stuffing defensive tackle Damon Harrison in a trade this week and could get defensive end Ezekiel Ansah back from injury as well, after getting right guard TJ Lang back last week, so they’re a team on the rise a little as well. I have the Lions as a slightly better than the Seahawks, while this line suggests they’re about even, with the hometown Lions favored by a field goal. I’m going to take the Lions, but there isn’t enough here to bet on them.

Detroit Lions 24 Seattle Seahawks 20

Pick against the spread: Detroit -3

Confidence: Low