Every week, I’ll dissect various narratives affecting NFL betting lines. This is vital, considering that most bettors digest these same narratives weekly. The betting public is larger than ever. While that’s exciting, it also means sportsbooks can lure and fool action junkies into taking a lousy wager based on repeated narratives purported by the media. My job is to ensure these narratives do not trick you.
49ers/Seahawks (+3) Betting Line Makes Sense
It probably doesn’t feel like it makes sense for the Seattle Seahawks only to be field goal underdogs Thursday night, but it checks out more than you may think. Here are a few reasons why the Seahawks might be more of a live dog on Thursday night.
It’s a Revenge Game
In Week 2, right after an impressive defeat of the Russell Wilson-led Broncos, the Seahawks got taken to the proverbial woodshed in Santa Clara. The 49ers looked like a team from a different planet in that contest. They out-gained Seattle 373-216 in total yards, forced three turnovers and never turned the ball over. They gained 11 more first downs (25-14), held the ball for more than 38 minutes and only got penalized once. The Seahawks were penalized 10 times for 106 yards. A surprise team in Week 1, Seattle quickly devolved in our collective perception after Week 2. Then Geno Smith went on a tear, and the Seahawks won five of their next seven games.
It’s in Seattle; That Matters
Most NFL fans know the vaunted “12th Man” in Seattle is nothing to bat an eye at. As crazy and loud as any fan base, teams used to experience real difficulty in the NFC playoffs when the Seahawks were championship contenders. While they’re probably not close to that type of designation this season, the Seattle crowd knows their Hawks are close to making the postseason. A smart Seattle fanbase should do everything it can to make every offensive play difficult for Brock Purdy.
While Purdy has been sensational stepping in for Jimmy Garoppolo, this will be his biggest test. Purdy is also entering this showdown with a nagging oblique. Probabilities suggest the rookie quarterback will be uncomfortable for myriad reasons Thursday night. Playing on the road in a big NFC West battle won’t make that any less challenging.
I give Seattle a full two-point advantage when they’re at home, and I’m not sure if that’s baked into the betting line properly. Don’t be surprised if Seattle’s home crowd propels their team into some advantageous positions.
Regression to the Mean is Inevitable
The 49ers’ defense will have to regress at some point, and Seattle's offense will have to bounce back at some point, too.
If you based your wager on the last two weeks alone, it would be challenging to bet on the Seahawks. In the last two weeks, they’ve allowed 53 points and 647 yards to two of the worst offenses in football. They’ve also been more mistake-prone. Against the Rams, Smith was sacked four times, and they turned it over twice. The Seahawks also had more penalties than their opponent in the past two weeks. That's not an area any team wants to be leading in.
Against the Panthers, Smith was sacked three times and threw another two interceptions. They’ll need to correct these errors against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
San Francisco is first in the NFL in opponent points allowed and yards per game. In the last two weeks, they’ve looked as dominant as ever. They held the high-powered Miami offense to only 17 points and 308 yards and limited the Buccaneers to only seven points and 322 yards.
It’s hard to do anything well against this stacked 49ers' defense. But, I think Seattle rises to the occasion Thursday night. San Francisco has played near-perfect defense for six weeks in a row, limiting their opponents to only 10.6 points per game in that span. That’s astounding, but “perfect football” rarely repeats itself week after week, especially in more challenging spots. We’ll see at least a few moments of regression, which may be all the Seahawks need to gain an edge and keep it close.
This Is a Tough Week to Pick a Team in Survivor
I’m in a survivor contest at BetOnline that started with 7,019 participants. At the precipice of Week 15, only 31 remain, and I’m one of the survivors. I already used the Eagles and the Chiefs. Let’s evaluate some of the better choices available.
This is a unique situation for the Washington Commanders. Washington started off hot against the Giants in Week 13, but the game ultimately ended in a tie. Mistakes in the second half, including a fumble on their first possession after the break, and a clunky offense that lost its rhythm in the second and third quarters, caused the game to be much closer than it should have been.
The Commanders outgained New York by nearly 100 total yards (411 to 316), controlled time of possessions (41:11 to 28:49) and they sacked Daniel Jones five times. Neither team was good on third downs. Washington was only 21% (3-14), while the Giants only converted 30% (4-13).
I expect both offenses to look better in Week 15, which is why I like this game to go over the total (40.5). But, I trust Washington’s offense more in a correction spot. The Commanders had two weeks to rest and think about their tie with the Giants. At home, in a game that can put Washington on the brink of a playoff bid (especially if Seattle or Detroit loses), the Commanders are a formidable selection in survivor.
I don’t have the Vikings left as a team to pick in Survivor, but I would certainly consider them if I did.
No one was shocked when the Detroit Lions rose to the occasion and dominated the Vikings last Sunday. Well, no one except the Minnesota Vikings. For the second time in the last four weeks, the Vikings were fed a big slice of humble pie. In Week 11, they were dominated in all three phases in a 40-3 home loss against the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 14, they never held a lead against their historically poor-performing but recently upstart divisional foe.
The Lions put up 464 total yards and 23 first downs on the Vikings' defense, yet another indication Minnesota doesn’t have championship talent on that side of the ball. However, the Vikings have responded well after their other two losses this season. Both of those corresponding games, like this one, were held at U.S. Bank Stadium, and Minnesota won both contests by more than a field goal.
One area of concern is luck. The Vikings are among the luckiest teams in the NFL this season (hell, maybe in NFL history), and the Indianapolis Colts are among the least lucky. Variance is just a part of life — the unfathomable happens on a weekly basis in the NFL — and the data suggests Indianapolis is overdue for some favors from the football gods.
Another concern is the Colts have a situational advantage. Indianapolis is coming off a 54-19 annihilation courtesy of the Cowboys in Week 13. Then in Week 14, they had a bye. They've rested and game-planned for the Vikings for a solid two weeks. I think the Vikings will win this game, but it’s another scary matchup in a scary week for Survivor contests worldwide. Hold onto your seat if you choose Minnesota to stay in it.
Notice all of my suggestions have been home teams. This one is no different, and the Carolina Panthers (wait for it) are playing some good football right now. I didn’t think I’d be proclaiming anything of that nature in Week 15, but here we are.
Quietly, the Panthers have won three of their last four games, and they’re officially in the running for the NFC South title. Because they’re 3-1 in their division, they’re officially in second place. During the last four games, they’ve shown plenty to believe they can defeat the Steelers this weekend. Let’s take a look at their performance in their last four battles:
- Allowed only 15.5 ppg
- Allowed only 283 yards per game
- Earned six takeaways and 14 sacks
- Ran for 168 rush yards per game, including a pedestrian 36-yard performance in a loss against Baltimore. They eclipsed 184 yards in each of the other three contests.
- In three wins during that span, they only turned the ball over one time.
Even better for the Panthers, the Steelers have a QB conundrum this week. Kenny Pickett is recovering from a concussion and needs two full practices to play on Sunday. That’s probably not going to happen. Mason Rudolph hasn’t played all season, and Mitch Trubisky is fresh off a terrible three-interception performance in a loss against the Ravens. He hasn’t earned anyone’s trust this season. Pickett was starting to look like the Steelers’ future franchise quarterback before his injury last Sunday. Without a steady hand at QB this weekend, Carolina has an inherent advantage.
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