Is home field really worth that much to the Seattle Seahawks?
CenturyLink Field flexed its pipes against New Orleans Monday night, breaking the world record for the loudest crowd ever and constantly crossed the Saints’ signals, helping the Seahawks win 34-7 and gain the inside track on home field in the NFC playoffs.
Now, Seattle moves down the coast to San Francisco where it's a 2.5-point road underdog versus the 49ers in Week 14. The Seahawks haven’t been nearly as dominant away from the Emerald City but own an identical ATS mark (4-2) on the road as they do at home, and look like the best team in football after mashing New Orleans Monday night.
Seattle’s opposition Sunday – San Francisco - is gaining momentum after two straight wins, but those victories came against the Redskins and Rams, who have a combined record of 8-16 on the season.
The Niners offense is nowhere near as explosive as in 2012 and only had two touchdowns on 338 yards in the victory over St. Louis, instead settling for three field goals and going 4-for-12 on third down. They went just 4-for-14 on third down versus Washington the week before.
Seattle’s offense is probably the most underrated attack in the NFL, simply because the Seahawks’ defense grabs all the glory. Russell Wilson & Co. average 28.3 points per game – second most in the league – and were a lethal 7-for-14 on third downs Monday night. On the year, Seattle boasts a 40.52 percent third-down completion rate – ninth best in the NFL.
When you have divisional clashes like this, with two strong defenses that know each other so well, it’s the team that scores touchdowns instead of settling for field goals that gets the win.
Texas Longhorns at Baylor Bears (-14, 73)
Tall totals are nothing new for Big 12 bettors. Baylor has forced books to post numbers above 70 points all season and draw another massive Over/Under in this season finale with the Longhorns.
The Bears, however, haven’t eclipsed those piles of points with ease, going 2-3-1 O/U in the six games with totals in the 70s or higher. Texas, the other side of this total, has been one of the best Under bets since October, posting a 1-5 O/U count in its last six outings.
The Longhorns don’t have the firepower to trade blows with the Bears, so they’ll lean on their defense to get the job done. Texas has a quick-strike stop unit and formidable pass rush that has collected 35 sacks – tied for 10th in the land – including nine QB kills in a blowout win over Texas Tech last weekend.
The Longhorns can also hold the fort on the ground, something that Oklahoma State successfully did in its win over BU. Baylor was limited to only 2.6 yards per carry on 36 run attempts, totaling 94 rushing yards versus the Cowboys. That was a massive drop off from the Bears' season average of 5.52 yards per carry.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans (+5.5, 51.5)
The Buckeyes are like the disillusioned boyfriend not giving up on the hot girl who cheated on him and tossed him to the curb like yesterday’s recycling.
Ohio State, despite its unblemished record and current No. 2 spot in the BCS, could still get left out in the rain holding a bouquet of soggy flowers when it comes time to name the two contenders for the national title.
The Buckeyes’ weak schedule and even weaker performance versus Michigan Saturday may have the Bowl Championship Series seeking out a sexy one-loss SEC school to play Florida State in Pasadena. And if that doesn’t do it, a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game will.
The Buckeyes are somehow 5.5-point favorites versus MSU at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday, a spread that looks even weirder when you consider Ohio State is 0-3 ATS in its last three and was 17-point chalk versus the Wolverines, needing a botched two-point conversion to win the game.
The Spartans took that same Michigan team to the woodshed for a 29-6 waxing as 4-point favorites in Week 10. Michigan State’s defense is a beast of a unit, allowing just 11.8 points on 237.3 yards per game - tops in the country – and is a completely different animal than anything OSU has faced in recent weeks.