Vegas Sports Masters Blog
Back to Blog Home…

Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Before the season started, fans knew there would at least be a chance that this week’s Thursday Night
NFL showdown matching the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers would be very important. San
Francisco was a popular pick to go to the Super Bowl this year…while Seattle was a popular darkhorse
pick to surprise in the division and maybe the postseason too.

Things couldn’t have worked out any better in terms of DRAMA. The two teams are tied for first place
in the NFC West right now with 4-2 records (along with Arizona, who is lucky to have that record and
is once again dealing with a quarterback injury). Whoever wins will be in the driver’s seat in the West.
Whoever loses will be basely sitting over .500 knowing that a strong finish will be required to even earn a
Wildcard in the competitive NFC conference.


*We have a former USC coach facing a former Stanford coach…and those guys didn’t like each other
back at the college level either!

*We have a relatively new defensive stalwart in Seattle hoping to make a statement in the home city of
one of the dominant NFL defenses of the past few seasons.

*We have young quarterback Russell Wilson recently upstaging Alex Smith with a pair of dramatic
game-winning touchdown passes. Smith may be moving in the right direction…but it will be a tough
blow if the rookie Wilson outperforms him tonight under a national spotlight.

The NFL Network assigned itself a gem this week. Let’s see what our indicator stats say about this
marquee matchup…

Las Vegas Spread: San Francisco by 6.5, total of 37.5

The Vegas market is suggesting San Francisco is about 3.5 points better on a neutral field. The game
would be near pick-em if it were in Seattle (where the Seahawks have already played nailbiters against
Green Bay and New England). This will be a great test to see if the Seahawks can play well vs. a
top contender on the road. This is where we find out if Seattle is really a playoff threat or not. San
Francisco’s a known quantity…and some of what’s known is the vulnerability they showed last week in a
disappointing home loss to the NY Giants. Vegas has posted a very low total here because great defenses
are on the field…facing quarterbacks who are far from certain to put points on the board against great


WON-LOST RECORDS (scheduled strength according to USA Today)
Seattle: 4-2 (15th ranked schedule)
San Francisco: 4-2 (9th ranked schedule)

Good stuff for both teams…as Seattle grades out as a winner against roughly a league average schedule.
San Francisco looks even better because they’ve dealt with a tougher slate. Right now, both look like
playoff teams. Tonight’s winner will be in a battle with Atlanta, Chicago, and possibly others down the
road for a first round bye.

Seattle: -1
San Francisco: +2

Both of these teams play conservatively on offense. San Francisco is opening things up some this year
thanks to new personnel. But, coach Jim Harbaugh would still rather punt than suffer a turnover. Pete
Carroll of Seattle knows he has to take it slow with a rookie quarterback. We may see a lot of punting
tonight as a result. San Francisco is most likely to have the edge in this stat if one presents itself. Note that
the Niners were +5 for the season before last week’s game against NYG where they had to increase their
risk while playing from behind.

Seattle: 300.7 yards-per-game on 5.0 yards-per-play
San Francisco: 387.0 yards-per-game on 6.2 yards-per-play

This is one of the biggest developments of the year. It’s been lost in the shuffle because of last week’s
loss to the Giants. But, San Francisco now has an offense! Their newfound big play capability has them
over six yards-per-play. And, who would have thought that an Alex Smith-quarterbacked team could
make a run at 400 yards per game a third of the way into the season? They did have some problems last
week…which means they could have more problems this week against another good defense. A very
important game for Smith in terms of proving that he can get the job done when needed vs. quality.

Seattle: 294.7 yards-per-game on 4.7 yards-per-play
San Francisco: 275.8 yards-per-game on 4.6 yards-per-play

Fantastic numbers here…which is why the total is so low. If both offenses keep things very safe against
intimidating stop units…we could see a battle of field goals and punts this evening. So, what looks like
a great matchup in the standings may be a boring game to watch! Sometimes games like this blow up
because one head coach tries to get creative. Will Seattle and San Francisco become the Pittsburgh-
Baltimore rivalry of the NFC? The preview stats you’re seeing today would be consistent with those from
Steelers-Ravens in their recent primes.


Total Yardage: New England 475, Seattle 368
Rushing Yards: New England 87, Seattle 85
Passing Stats: New England 36-58-2-388, Seattle 16-27-0-283
Turnovers: New England 2, Seattle 2
Third Downs: New England 44%, Seattle 33%
Vegas Line: New England by 3.5, total of 43

It’s not embarrassing to get outgained by New England. And, the Seahawks managed to keep the Pats
off the scoreboard relatively speaking considering that almost 500 yards were allowed. Think about
how great Seattle’s stat averages were before this game! Seattle must be concerned offensively about
turnovers and third downs. Those are key categories when you have a rookie quarterback. With tonight’s
game being on the road…QB inexperience may be the tie-breaker that ultimately decides who covers the

Total Yardage: NY Giants 342, San Francisco 314
Rushing Yards: NY Giants 149, San Francisco 80
Passing Stats: NY Giants 15-28-0-193, San Francisco 23-37-3-234
Turnovers: NY Giants 0, San Francisco 3
Third Downs: NY Giants 33%, San Francisco 29%
Vegas Line: San Francisco by 6.5, total of 46

Speaking of turnovers and third downs. The Niners struggled in both categories last week. Third downs
were an issue all last season because Harbaugh was so conservative with Smith. If throwing downfield
more often increases turnovers while not improving third downs…then the city’s Super Bowl dreams may
have to be put on hold for awhile. When playing clean, San Francisco looks to be beat in the NFC. We’ll
be learning over the next month how regularly they can pull that off.

We’d have to say that the very best expectation is for a defensive struggle that sees both teams running
clock, playing field position, and trying to grind out a win. The possible monkey wrenches in that
scenario come from the rookie status of Seattle’s quarterback…and the “trying to get better” status of San
Francisco’s quarterback. Either could blow up with turnovers if they try to bite off more than they can

JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his sources to get a read on how these coaches are going
to approach the game. First meetings are often close to the vest, with creativity saved for divisional
rematches. That could trigger an Under play here. But, if our sources here about some trickeration or
opening up of the offenses…then either team and the Over becomes a possibility at manageable prices.


You can purchase Thursday pro football, college football (including Oregon at Arizona State on ESPN),
and playoff baseball right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the
office at 1-800-323-4453. A huge weekend is on tap, so this is the ideal time to come in for extended

Back with you Friday to start two days of big-game previews in college football action. We’ll look at
South Carolina-Florida on Friday, then Kansas State-West Virginia on Saturday here in the NOTEBOOK.
Both are top 10 meetings in terms of the BCS standings. The NFL resumes on Sunday just in time
for another exciting week of action. Why lose on your own when BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM

Join the discussion


Forgot password

Keep me logged in