Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks: 2020 NFC Wild Card Round Pick

Los Angeles Rams (10-6) at Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

The Rams’ offense had serious injury issues last week against the Cardinals, but things seem to be getting better quickly. Running back Cam Akers, who struggled while playing at less than 100% last week, was not listed with an injury designation this week and, while fellow running back Darrell Henderson remains out, Akers should be healthy enough to be an effective lead back, with Malcolm Brown being a capable running back behind him. 

The Rams will also get #1 wide receiver Cooper Kupp back from one-game COVID absence and, probably even more importantly, they’ll get stud left tackle Andrew Whitworth back from a 7-game absence. The big question though is the health of quarterback Jared Goff, who sat out last week after thumb surgery. Goff reportedly practiced this week and threw the ball well, but he should be considered less than 100% even if he does suit up and there’s a possibility we’ll see unproven backup John Wolford for some or all of this game. 

The quarterback situation is a concern because the Rams haven’t been a particularly good offense this season overall, even with minimal injuries beyond the absences mentioned above, only one of which (Whitworth’s) was longer than a game. On the season, the Rams rank 21st in first down rate over expected at -0.36% and I would expect them to be even more below average now, given their quarterback situation. 

The Rams’ defense has been dominant, leading the league with a -5.05% first down rate allowed over expected, but defensive performance is much less consistent week-to-week than offensive performance. If the Rams’ don’t get a dominant performance from their defense, they could be in a lot of trouble and there’s no guarantee they’ll get one, given the inherent game-to-game inconsistency of defensive performance.

The Seahawks, in many ways, have been the opposite. Their defense struggled mightily earlier in the season, but they’ve been significantly improved in recent weeks, due in part to the inherent inconsistency of defensive play, but also due to the return of top cornerback Shaq Griffin and top safety Jamal Adams, as well as the addition of top edge rusher Carlos Dunlap at the trade deadline. Now they rank 15th in the league in first down rate allowed at +0.28% and they’re more talented than that suggests when Griffin, Adams, and Dunlap are on the field together

That gives the Seahawks a great compliment for an offense that has remained strong throughout the season, ranking 6th in first down rate over expected at +2.05%. They’re also getting healthier on offense, as left guard Mike Iupati and right tackle Brandon Shell will return, giving the Seahawks’ their full offensive line healthy together for the first time since week 4. I’m going to leave this as a low confidence pick at -3 for now, but only because I want to see what happens with this line when Goff is announced as the starter, which seems like it will be the case. If this line drops below 2.5, the Seahawks are an easy bet and, even if it stays put at 3, I could be talked into betting Seattle.

Update: I don’t expect this line to go down to 2.5 anymore because the news on Goff on gameday isn’t as good as it was earlier in the week, when it seemed likely that he would play. Now reports suggest he may only be active as an emergency backup, meaning unproven backup John Wolford would be likely to play all or most of this game. If that turns out to be the case, this line may shoot back up to 3.5-4.5. I think that’s more likely than a drop to 2.5, so I’m going to lock in -3. Even if Goff is able to play, it would likely be at less than 100% and I like getting the Seahawks as mere field goal favorites against a banged up Goff or his backup Wolford.

Seattle Seahawks 23 Los Angeles Rams 17

Pick against the spread: Seattle -3

Confidence: Medium

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers: 2020 Week 17 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (11-4) at San Francisco 49ers (6-9)

The 49ers have had a disappointing season at 6-9, but they’ve played significantly better than their record suggests, despite being one of the most injury plagued teams in the league. Their -11 point differential is much more in line with a .500 team, despite the fact that they’ve played an above average schedule. They have also struggled in metrics that tend to be highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and have almost no predictive value as a result.

Turnover margin is the most impactful metric with minimal predictive value and the 49ers rank 2nd worst in the league at -10. That has also led to a -4 return touchdown margin which has cost them at least a couple games (Washington and Philadelphia) by itself, not to mention a loss to Dallas in which they were -4 in turnovers and -24 in points off turnovers. The 49ers won the first down rate battle by a wide margin in all 3 of those games and could easily be 9-6 right now if a couple things had gone differently in those games. 

The 49ers are also -23.44% in 4th down rate conversion differential, another impactful metric with minimal predictive value. In terms of schedule adjusted first down rate differential, which is much more predictive, the 49ers rank 4th at +3.78%. That’s not to say they are the 4th best team in the league, but a deep dive into the numbers shows that they have played a lot better this season on a per snap basis than their 6-9 record would suggest.

Unfortunately, now in the last game of the season, the 49ers are even more depleted than they’ve been all season, with several new players being added to the injury report in the past week. On offense, the 49ers will be missing their top-2 quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens, their top running back Raheem Mostert, their top-2 wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, their top-2 centers Weston Richburg and Ben Garland, and their stud left tackle Trent Williams.

Meanwhile, on defense, the 49ers will be without their top-2 defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw and Kevin Givens, their top-2 edge defenders Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, two of their top-3 linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Kwon Alexander, two of their top-3 cornerbacks Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams, and starting safety Jaquiski Tartt. Aiyuk, Williams, Greenlaw, and Williams have been added to the list of absent players just in the past week, after playing significant snaps in last week’s win over the Cardinals. Overall, the 49ers rank just 23rd in my roster rankings, without all of the players they are missing.

That’s a problem because the 49ers are playing a tough Seahawks team. The Seahawks’ offense has played well all season, ranking 5th in first down rate over expected at +2.11%, but it has been the emergence of their defense that has them in a strong position heading into the post-season. After struggling through the early part of the season, the Seahawks now rank 19th in first down rate allowed over expected at +0.72%, leading to the Seahawks winning 5 of their past 6 games, including last week’s win over the Rams to clinch the division and keep the Seahawks alive for the #1 seed in the NFC.

Defensive performance tends to be much more inconsistent on a week-to-week basis than offensive performance, so it was always predictable that the Seahawks would get better defensively as the season went along, especially with the return of Jamal Adams and Shaq Griffin from injury and the addition of Carlos Dunlap from the Bengals. The Seahawks also have typically played much better in the second half of the season than the first half in the Russell Wilson era, going 45-23-3 ATS in weeks 9-16, as opposed to 34-34-4 ATS in weeks 1-8. This line is pretty high at Seattle -7, but I have them calculated as 10-point favorites, so we’re actually getting some good line value with them against a skeleton crew 49ers team. The Seahawks are worth a bet at -7 and if -6.5 pops up before gametime, I will increase this bet.

Seattle Seahawks 31 San Francisco 49ers 20

Pick against the spread: Seattle -7

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks: 2020 Week 16 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (9-5) at Seattle Seahawks (10-4)

The Rams lost at home in embarrassing fashion to the previously winless Jets, in the biggest upset win in the NFL in the past 25 seasons (17.5 point favorites). Normally big upset losses like that tend to be complete flukes and the team that lost tends to be a smart bet going forward, as teams cover at a 57.0% rate after a loss as favorites of 10 points or more. The Rams’ opponents this week, the Seattle Seahawks, were an example of this, when they rebounded from a shocking home loss to the Colt McCoy led Giants as 11-point underdogs by demolishing the Jets 40-3 the following week. On top of that, the Rams are also in a good spot because they have a winning record and are facing a team with a winning record before facing another team with a winning record (Arizona) next week. Teams cover at a 54.4% rate in that spot. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but good teams seem to be totally focused before back-to-back difficult games.

Unfortunately, even after last week’s loss, we’re not getting line value with the Rams. In fact, with this line being even, we’re actually getting a little bit of line value with the Seahawks. The Rams rank higher in schedule adjusted first down rate differential, ranking 1st at +5.30%, while the Seahawks rank 10th at +1.70%, but the Seahawks are significantly better on offense, which is the more predictable and predictive side of the ball. While the Rams rank just 19th in first down rate over expected at +0.02%, the Seahawks rank 5th at +2.64%.

The Rams have the obviously better defense, ranking 1st in first down rate allowed over expected at -5.28%, while the Seahawks rank 23rd at +0.94%, but defensive performance is much more likely to regress to the mean in the long run than offensive performance and the Seahawks’ defense has been much improved in recent weeks, 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 being added in mid-season acquisitions. I give the Seahawks a 2-point edge in my roster rankings, so, even without fans in the stands, the Seahawks should be favored by at least a couple points in this matchup. We’re not getting enough line value with the Seahawks for them to be worth betting against a team in a better spot, but they should be the right side in a game in which they only have to win in order to cover.

Seattle Seahawks 26 Los Angeles Rams 24

Pick against the spread: Seattle PK

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team: 2020 Week 15 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks: 2020 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Jets (0-12) at Seattle Seahawks (8-4)

The Seahawks lost last week in shocking fashion, sitting at 8-3, at home facing a sub-.500 team who was starting a backup quarterback. Even more shocking is that, while the Seahawks’ issues this season have primarily been on the defensive side of the ball, the unit that struggled the most in Seattle’s 17-12 loss was their offense. The good news is I like the Seahawks’ chances of bouncing back, for a few reasons. 

For one, teams typically bounce back off of big upset losses like that, covering at a 57.1% rate all-time after a straight up loss as favorites of 10 or more, as big upset losses tend to be flukes more than anything. The Jaguars’ upset of the Colts and the Raiders’ upset of the Chiefs stand out as two fluky results from this season. The Seahawks’ loss to the Giants will likely be remembered the same way as those losses and both of those teams covered fairly easily the following week. 

The Seahawks lso bounced back from losses well in general in the Russell Wilson era, losing back-to-back games just 9 times in about 9 seasons. The Seahawks are favored by 13.5 points in this matchup with the Jets, so they’ll need to win by a lot to cover, but the Seahawks are also 28-12 ATS off of a loss in the Russell Wilson era, including 8-3 ATS as favorites of more than a touchdown, so a huge victory this week to wash away the taste of last week’s disappointing loss is definitely a possibility.

Even with last week’s disappointing offensive performance, the Seahawks still rank 5th in first down rate over expected at +2.11% and, while their defense ranks an underwhelming 20th in first down rate allowed over expected at +1.11%, defensive performance tends to be much more inconsistent on a week-to-week basis than offensive performance and their defense has been significantly better in recent weeks since getting top safety Jamal Adams and top cornerback Shaq Griffin back from injuries and since adding edge defender Carlos Dunlap in a trade with the Bengals. 

The Seahawks’ offense has also gotten healthier. They’ve gotten their top-2 running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde back from significant absences in recent weeks and this week they’ll have their full healthy offensive line together for the first time since 4, with right tackle Brandon Shell set to return this week. The Seahawks aren’t at 100%, but no one is at this point in the season and they’re legitimately healthier right now than they’ve been since the start of the season. In their current state, I have the Seahawks ranked 2nd in my roster rankings, so they should be a force going forward, last week’s fluky result aside.

The Jets, meanwhile, haven’t won a game all season and most of their losses haven’t been close, as 7 of their 12 losses were by 14 or more points, which would cover this spread, and their average margin of defeat is 14.4 points per game, so the Seahawks wouldn’t even need to give the Jets their average margin of defeat to cover this spread. This line was -15 last week on the early line, but it shifted to 13.5 in the wake of Seattle’s fluky loss, which gives us some extra line value. The Jets’ had one of their better performances of the year last week in a near win over the Raiders, but their good health in the receiving corps and on the offensive line lasted just one week and, as a result, my roster rankings suggest there is about a 14.5 point difference between these two teams.

The Jets are also in a tough spot with back-to-back hard road games, with a trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams on deck. It’s very tough for inferior teams to keep up with superior teams when they have another superior team on deck, as teams are 55-91 ATS since 1989 as double digit underdogs before being double digit underdogs again the following week. Everything suggests this should be a blowout, so, even though I don’t love betting on big favorites, this seems like a relatively safe bet.

Seattle Seahawks 30 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Seattle -13.5

Confidence: Medium

New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks: 2020 Week 13 NFL Pick

New York Giants (4-7) at Seattle Seahawks (8-3)

Coming out of their bye week last week, the Giants looked like they would be a good bet going forward. They were just 3-7, but they had faced a tough schedule to start their season, including 9 out of 10 games against teams that rank in the top-10 in first down rate allowed over expected, and they were healthier coming out of the bye than they’ve been most of the season. That lasted about a half, as the Giants were up 13-10 with the ball in Cincinnati’s red zone early in the 3rd quarter (with the Bengals’ only touchdown coming on a return touchdown), but then quarterback Daniel Jones suffered a hamstring injury that has him week-to-week and will cause him to miss at least this game in Seattle. 

Jones’ numbers haven’t been that impressive this season, but they’re a lot more impressive when you consider the quality of the defensives he’s been facing and their offense immediately became noticeably more stagnant when he went down, with underwhelming backup quarterback Colt McCoy unable to do much of anything against a mediocre Bengals defense in what ended up being a 19-17 win that could have easily turned to a Giants loss had the Bengals not fumbled at midfield at the end of the game on what could have been a game winning field goal drive. 

McCoy will have a full week of practice with the first team this week, but he figures to continue struggling, as he’s a 34-year-old journeyman with a career 78.2 QB rating, who recently threw more interceptions than touchdowns in a brief stint as the Washington Redskins starting quarterback from 2018-2019. With him under center, the Giants rank 29th in my roster rankings (or 28th depending on who is eligible to play this week for Baltimore), only ahead of the Jets, Bengals, and Jaguars. There’s a huge gap between them and the Seahawks.

The Seahawks have not played as well as their 8-3 record would suggest this season, going 6-2 in one score games, with a +37 point differential and a 12th ranked +0.77% first down rate differential, but I expect them to play better than that going forward. There are a few reasons for that, including simply that they’re typically much better in the second half of the season than the first half in the Russell Wilson era, going 43-21-3 ATS in games 9-16 since Wilson’s first season in 2012, as opposed to just 34-34-4 ATS in games 1-8.

On top of that, the Seahawks are an offensive led team and offensive led teams tend to fare better going forward because offensive performance is much more consistent and predictive week-to-week than defensive performance. The Seahawks rank 5th in first down rate over expected at +2.54%, but are dragged down by a defense that ranks just 27th in first down rate allowed over expected at +1.77%. If they can get even middling play from their defense going forward, they should keep winning games, including some by larger margins than most of their wins thus far this season.

Aside from the inherent randomness of defensive play, the Seahawks are also getting more talented on defense, in large part due to players returning from injury. A few weeks ago, the Seahawks got talented safety Jamal Adams back from a 4-game absence and last week they got Shaq Griffin back also from a 4-game absence. They also added defensive end Carlos Dunlap a few weeks ago in a trade with Cincinnati that gave the Seahawks much needed help on their defensive line, though he is questionable for this game after not practicing all week. Their offense is also healthier than it’s been in recent weeks, with top running backs Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde returning from absences of 4 games and 3 games respectively. My roster rankings have them ranked 4th and they shouldn’t have much trouble with the Colt McCoy led Giants.

Unfortunately, we’re not getting line value with the Seahawks, who have ballooned to 11-point home favorites, despite not having any real homefield advantage without fans. My calculated line is Seattle -11.5, so I think they still have a good chance to cover, especially with without any upcoming distractions on the schedule, with the Jets coming to town next week (home favorites of 10+ are 52-31 ATS since 2002 before being home favorites of 10+ again the following week), but there isn’t enough here for the Seahawks to be worth betting, even if Dunlap is ultimately able to suit up.

Seattle Seahawks 30 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: Seattle -11

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 Week 12 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)

The Seahawks have not played as well as their record would suggest this season, going 5-2 in one score games, with a +31 point differential and a 17th ranked +0.26% first down rate differential, but I expect them to play better than that going forward. There are a few reasons for that, including simply that they’re typically much better in the second half of the season than the first half in the Russell Wilson era, going 43-21-2 ATS in games 9-16 since Wilson’s first season in 2012, as opposed to just 34-34-4 ATS in games 1-8.

On top of that, the Seahawks are an offensive led team and offensive led teams tend to fare better going forward because offensive performance is much more consistent and predictive week-to-week than defensive performance. The Seahawks rank 6th in first down rate over expected at +2.30%, but are dragged down by a defense that ranks just 25th in first down rate allowed over expected at +2.05%. If they can get even middling play from their defense going forward, they should keep winning games, including some by larger margins than most of their wins thus far this season.

Aside from the inherent randomness of defensive play, the Seahawks are also getting more talented on defense, in large part due to players returning from injury. A few weeks ago, the Seahawks got talented safety Jamal Adams back from a 4-game absence and, this week, they’ll be top cornerback Shaq Griffin back, also from a 4-game absence. On top of that, they have upgraded their defensive line in recent weeks with mid-season veteran additions Carlos Dunlap and Damon Harrison. Their offense also gets a boost with feature back Chris Carson returning from his own 4-game absence. With all of these players in the lineup, I have the Seahawks ranked 4th in my roster rankings and they definitely could perform at that level going forward if they can stay relatively healthy.

I was always planning on betting the Seahawks confidently once they got reasonably healthy, but they’re also in a good spot in this game for a couple reasons. For one, they’re a west coast team in a night game against an east coast team. Due to circadian rhythms, west coast teams cover at about a 60% rate against east coast teams at night, as east coast teams tend to get tired towards the end of the game and see their performance fall off in the second half. On top of that, while the Eagles have another tough game on deck in Green Bay, the Seahawks get another relatively easy game at home against the Giants. I wish this line was still at Seattle -3, where it was on the early line last week, but it’s understandable the line would move for the Seahawks being healthier (not to mention the Eagles losing top offensive lineman Lane Johnson for the season) and my calculated line is Seattle -6, so the Seahawks are still worth a bet at -5.

Seattle Seahawks 31 Philadelphia Eagles 23

Pick against the spread: Seattle -5

Confidence: Medium

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: 2020 Week 11 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

The Seahawks started 5-0 before their bye, but it wasn’t a very convincing 5-0, as four of their wins came by one score. It was very similar to last season when they went just 1-3 in games decided by more than one score, but made the playoffs because a 10-2 record in games decided by one score pushed them to 11 wins on the season. In total, the Seahawks went 14-2 in one score games over a 16-game stretch of one score games, which was highly improbable and not something that was likely to continue. Even elite quarterbacks like Russell Wilson struggle to win more than half of their one score games on a consistent basis and before that 14-2 stretch Wilson actually went just 30-34 to start his career in one score games.

Sure enough, since their week 6 bye, the Seahawks have dropped 3 of the past 4 games, including an 0-2 record in one score games. Once seemingly the favorite for the #1 seed in the NFC, the Seahawks are suddenly in a 3-way tie for the NFC West lead, ahead of a crucial Thursday Night Football matchup with the Cardinals, who currently hold the tiebreaker by virtue of a 37-34 victory in Arizona back in week 7. On top of that, of the three teams tied for the NFC West lead, the Seahawks have statistically been the worst, as they have just a +24 point differential and rank just 15th in schedule adjusted first down rate differential at +0.48%.

There is some good news for the Seahawks though. For one, they typically finish seasons better than they start. They lost last week in the first game of the second half, but since Russell Wilson arrived in 2012, the Seahawks are 42-21-2 ATS in games 9-16, as opposed to 34-34-4 ATS in games 1-8. On top of that, the Seahawks are an offensive led team, which is a good thing because offensive performance tends to be much more consistent week-to-week than defensive performance. The Seahawks rank 3rd in first down rate over expected, so if their defense, which has ranked 25th in first down rate allowed over expected, can be even a middling defense the rest of the way, this team is going to be tough to beat.

This is also a great spot for the Seahawks, off of back-to-back losses. Not only does it give us a better line, with the Seahawks shifting from being 5.5-point favorites on the early line last week to being 3-point favorites this week, but they’ve typically done well off of a loss in the Russell Wilson era at 27-12-3 ATS and have been even better off of back-to-back losses, going 7-1 ATS with no 3-game losing streaks in Wilson’s 137-game career. The Seahawks figure to be fully locked in for this game, especially having lost to the Cardinals earlier this season, while the Cardinals could be a little flatter, having already beaten the Seahawks once and coming off an insane last second win against the Bills last week.

All that being said, I was hoping for a better injury report for the Seahawks, as their defense may need to get at least mostly healthy to be a middling unit. They got safety Jamal Adams back a couple weeks ago and have added veterans Damon Harrison and Carlos Dunlap to give them a much needed boost on the defensive line, but they’re still missing both of their cornerbacks, Shaq Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, who will miss their fourth and second game respectively this week. 

On offense, the Seahawks get #2 running back Carlos Hyde back from a 3-game absence, but will be without lead running back Chris Carson for the 4th straight game and, with center Ethan Pocic out, this is their 6th straight game missing at least one starting offensive lineman. Injury problems have been part of the reason for the Seahawks regression in recent weeks, so I was hoping that at least one of the aforementioned absent players would return. 

Without them, it’s hard to justify placing a bet on the Seahawks as field goal favorites, given that they’ll have no real homefield advantage without fans in the stands. This line suggests the Seahawks are about 2.5 points better than the Cardinals, giving them a half point for homefield advantage. I would say 2.5 points is about right, as the Cardinals are in many ways a slightly lesser version of the Cardinals, with a strong offense and a defense that has struggled. I still think the Seahawks should be the right side because I don’t envision them losing three straight games, especially on a short week when the more veteran, better coached team usually wins, but a 1-3 point win wouldn’t really surprise me, so I wouldn’t recommend placing money on the Seahawks.

I am locking in TEN +6 @ BAL and JAX +10.5 vs. PIT now before the lines shift. I will have a full write-ups as usual with the rest of my picks this weekend.

Seattle Seahawks 29 Arizona Cardinals 24

Pick against the spread: Seattle -3

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams: 2020 Week 10 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (6-2) at Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

The Seahawks are 6-2, 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 17th 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 6th in first down rate over expected at 2.38%, but just 26th in first down rate allowed over expected at 2.27%, 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 for anyone.

There are reasons to be optimistic for this Seahawks’ defense, as they got safety Jamal Adams back from a 4-game absence last week and they also added defensive end Carlos Dunlap in a trade with the Bengals, but they may need to be healthier at the cornerback position before they can be significantly improved on the defensive side of the ball, with their top-3 cornerbacks Shaq Griffin, Quinton Dunbar, and Ugo Amadi all out for this one. 

Still, I like their chances of bouncing back this week, purely because losing back-to-back games has been rare for this team in the Russell Wilson era, as they are 27-11-3 ATS and 33-8 straight up after a loss since 2012. On top of that, the Seahawks are also 23-12-3 ATS as underdogs in the Russell Wilson era. The Seahawks have also typically been a better team in the second half of the second with Wilson, going 42-20-2 ATS in games 9-16, as opposed to 34-34-4 ATS in games 1-8. They almost always seem to find a way to get better as the season goes on and it definitely wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case again this season. 

This week, the Seahawks play a Rams team that has a significant defensive edge, but is not nearly as good offensively. I have the Seahawks 1 point better than the Rams in my roster rankings even with all of their cornerback injuries, so we’re getting good line value with the Seahawks as 2-point road underdogs in a stadium that won’t have any fans. There isn’t quite enough here for the Seahawks to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes and the money line at +115 is a good bet as well, as the Seahawks should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game straight up.

Update: This is a late update, but this line has moved to 3 in some places before gametime. I would bet the Seahawks at that number.

Seattle Seahawks 26 Los Angeles Rams 24 Upset Pick +135

Pick against the spread: Seattle +3

Confidence: Medium

Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills: 2020 Week 9 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: Low