Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The NFC will be rooting long and hard this year for teams to upset the Seattle Seahawks. After what sports fans and handicappers saw this past Sunday Night, it’s going to be very difficult for anybody to beat Seattle IN SEATTLE…which means a #1 seed for the Seahawks might lock up a Super Bowl bid even before the playoffs begin.
We’re not just talking about loud noise and home field advantage. Seattle’s stadia have been noisy forever…but they’re not Super bowl regulars. The difference this year involves the following combination of factors:
*Seattle has a great team, not just a good one
*Seattle has one of the best defenses of the past decade
*How can anyone move the ball against a great defense IN deafening noise?!
You have to score points to win ball games…and that combination of deafening noise and a fantastic defense is not something that’s come up very often in NFL history. There have been some combinations of great defenses and poor scoring conditions (weather, or the turf in Chicago). The best defenses haven’t been dome teams…and that’s usually where the noise is (Seattle built it’s relatively new outdoor stadium with acoustics in mind, hoping to capture the volume of the old Kingdome)
Of course, something you can imagine being an issue isn’t necessarily something that’s real. You want to see something REAL? Seattle and San Francisco were “Power Rated” as the two best teams in the NFC late last season, and then again to start this new season according to the most respected Las Vegas sources. (Atlanta was a #1 seed last year because of a softer schedule and some good fortune in close games. You’ll recall that the Falcons were favored by less than a field goal at home vs. Seattle last January…meaning the Seahawks were the better neutral field team.)
Seattle (-3) beat San Francisco 29-3 last Sunday
Seattle (-2.5) beat San Francisco 42-17 last December
That’s 71-20 on the scoreboard at home for Seattle against the other NFC power! Which NFC team is going to win in Seattle if the 49ers can’t stay within 24 points?!
If you watched this year’s Preseason game between Seattle and Denver at this site…you saw a crowed and a team that wanted to send a message to the best team in the AFC too. They did, winning 40-10 as a medium favorite. Sure, it was only a Preseason game. Peyton Manning was treating it seriously when he was on the field (as you know if you watched), and he struggled in the noise.
It may be extreme to say NOBODY is going to win in Seattle this year except the Seahawks. Flukes happen every so often. It’s clearly factual though that trying to win a playoff game on that field is going to be a tall task.
Seattle is already 2-0 in the standings, and is almost a 20-point favorite at home this week against the worst team in the NFL, Jacksonville. Let’s see if there are any schedule challenges that could keep the Seahawks from earning a #1 seed and home field through the playoffs.
SEATTLE AFTER HOSTING JACKSONVILLE
At Arizona (Thursday Night)
At St. Louis (Monday Night)
Let’s stop right there…because the schedule-maker might have given the rest of the NFC an enormous break. Once they dispatch with the Jaguars, the Seahawks must play four road games in five weeks. The first two come against playoff teams from the AFC…and will at least present a challenge for sweeping. You assume a win over Tennessee, but then two road games against divisional rivals in front of crowds performing for TV cameras will present a true challenge. Seattle will be favored in all four of those road games most likely (possibly near pick-em at Houston)
If Seattle is 8-0 after St. Louis, that #1 seed may already be theirs.
SEATTLE’S LAST EIGHT
Hosting Tampa Bay
Hosting New Orleans
At San Francisco
At NY Giants
Hosting St. Louis
Far from a gift. The Seahawks will get a shot at playoff revenge in Atlanta. You know San Francisco will be breathing fire for that divisional rematch. Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees aren’t just going to lay down when they come to visit.
The best case scenario for the NFC is that the Seahawks drop some games and fall to a Wildcard spot because of that 4-in-5 road slate coming up and the general toughness of the NFC this year. The worst case scenario for the NFC, and maybe the NFL as a whole?
*Seattle goes at least 13-3 to get a #1 seed
*Seattle gets acclimated to the Super Bowl site when they visit the Giants!
Amazing that Seattle gets a dress rehearsal just three weeks before the regular season ends. The schedule maker wasn’t the friendliest of guys…but he may have thrown them a bone there.
JIM HURLEY is following dozens of storylines in the NFL right now…because picking pointspread winners means knowing in advance how each season’s drama is going to be written. You can take advantage of his 25+ years of success and his exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach right here at the website. We have great seasonal rates. Game day BEST BETS are available for credit card purchase.
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Here’s this weekend’s big game preview schedule for the NOTEBOOK:
Thursday: Kansas City at Philadelphia in the NFL
Friday: an early look at Michigan State/Notre Dame in college football
Saturday: key numbers for Arizona State/Stanford in the week’s top prime time game
Sunday: Chicago at Pittsburgh in the NFL
Monday: Oakland at Denver in the NFL
Seattle may already be positioned for a serious run at the World Championship. The undisputed World Champion of sports handicapping has always been JIM HURLEY!