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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 4:00 PM

NBC didn’t have to flex its muscles with its “flex schedule” this week…as Seattle/Arizona turned out to be the biggest game of the day! Who would have imagined that before the season started. Sure, Arizona had a chance to be a contender. Nobody had them as the #1 seed in the NFC with only two games left on the schedule.

To say this is one of the most important games of the year in the NFC is an understatement. First place is at stake in the NFC West…which means a home game and a first round bye (both Arizona and Seattle have such great conference records that the winner of the West is a shoe-in for one of the top two seeds). Arizona has clinched at least a Wildcard. But, Seattle could conceivably fall all the way out of the playoffs if they suffer a loss. The last thing the Seahawks need is to finish in a tie for sixth with Dallas after 16 games, a team they lost to during the regular season.

And, we haven’t even got to the nuances of the brackets yet. Most respected Power Ratings currently have Seattle and Green Bay as the top two teams in the NFC …yet those two teams would be Wildcards if the season ended right now! It’s impossible to figure out who’s going to play who in the brackets just yet…and those pathways will go a long way toward determining the ultimate survivor in the NFC draw. With all the danger teams involved, it’s possible that a #5 seed will ultimately get a soft opener against the struggling NFC South winner, for the right to face #1 Arizona and its huge quarterback issues the next week. Big difference between that pathway and the other contenders!

Most will be watching this one on their edge of their seats. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup…


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Seattle: 10-4 (#12 schedule in USA Today)

Arizona: 11-3 (#13 schedule in USA Today)

At first glance, Arizona is the better team. Schedule strength has been virtually identical. They have the better record. First glance doesn’t tell you that Ryan Lindley will be playing quarterback for Arizona! They are definitely not an 11-3 caliber team with him at the helm, even if he did hold his own last week in an ugly 12-6 road win at St. Louis. Let’s also mention that Seattle has been playing much better than 10-4 lately. After shaking off a Super Bowl hangover, they’re once again looking like champions.



Seattle: 5.7 on offense, 4.8 on defense

Arizona: 5.2 on offense, 5.5 on defense

Big news here. Arizona has a negative differential for the season, even with better quarterbacks than Lindley. That means their won-lost record is a bit of a fluke. They’re not as good as their record. Seattle has a big differential advantage keyed once again by a fantastic defense. Those are the stats of a champion on the visiting side…and the stats of a pretender below.


Turnover Differential

Seattle: +8

Arizona: +12

This is why Arizona has a great record. And, we do respect teams who are playing on the right side of the risk/reward ratio. This defense is hard-hitting and does force mistakes. But, they’re probably not going to keep betting the best of it down this far on the depth charts with their quarterback. Seattle is likely to win this category Sunday Night all things considered.


Market Performance

Seattle: 7-6-1

Arizona: 10-4

The market has underestimated Arizona all along…though the Cards are surely catching some breaks to turn their YPP differential into a #1 seed. So, that 10-4 record is a combination of a misread and luck. Seattle is 3-0-1 ATS the past month, which lifted them above the .500 mark against the line after their shaky start.


Current Line: Seattle by 8, total of 36.5

Wow…big number there for a road favorite. Has a #1 seed ever been that big an underdog before this late in the season? At HOME?! Obviously, the market is pricing Seattle like a Super Bowl team, and Arizona like a 4-12 caliber team that has no hope on offense. That very low posted total is telling you that the market expects no offense for the Cards. The projected final score is roughly 22-14. Maybe 14 is too high! Don’t forget that Seattle just beat Arizona 19-3 a few weeks ago, when the Cards were in slightly better shape at the quarterback position.

Very tricky game for handicappers. A total that seems low is actually high compared to recent Seattle action. Seahawks/Eagles only made it to 38, and Philly plays fast break football. Their other games in the past month only made it to 22, 22, and 24. Arizona will be committed to a field position game themselves, knowing they have little chance to win a shootout with their current offense.

Will we see a replay of Round One? Will Seattle slack off at just the wrong time (as this defense is prone to do when they get overconfident)? JIM HURLEY will leave no stone unturned as he tries to find you the winner in Sunday’s most important game. You can purchase Sunday’s BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155 Sunday morning before the games kick off.

Another important NFL matchup is on tap tomorrow. And, this time both teams have their starting quarterbacks! Here’s the upcoming schedule for the NOTEBOOK…

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Denver at Cincinnati on ESPN

Tuesday: Boca Raton Bowl Preview…Marshall vs. Northern Illinois

Wednesday: Hawaii Bowl Preview…Fresno State vs. Rice

Thursday: Early Look...Rutgers vs. North Carolina in Friday’s Quick Lane Bowl

Friday: St. Petersburg Bowl Preview…North Carolina State vs. Central Florida

Saturday: Holiday Bowl Preview…Nebraska vs USC

A fantastic Sunday awaits as we countdown to Christmas. GET ALL THE MONEY so you can STUFF YOUR STOCKINGS by hooking up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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