Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 4, 2016 at 12:05 PM
The Seattle Seahawks are in control of the NFC West with a 4-2-1 record. They’re the betting favorite to win the NFC title at 7-2, and with a 10-1 price to win the Super Bowl, they’re second only to the heavily favored New England Patriots in overall market esteem. But as the Seahawks get ready for a run of three straight nationally televised games, are they worth being trusted as a favorite.
On the game-by-game level, the answer thus far in 2016 has been now. Seattle has been favored six times this year and the ATS record is 2-4. Of those four spread losses, two were outright wins, including one over a good Atlanta Falcons team. That’s an early indicator that even though the Seahawks might still be a good team, they’re being priced like a great one.
When you break down this football team, by both numbers and personnel, the “good but not great” case starts to gain steam. Seattle just has too many problems on offense to reach the level of greatness. The offensive line, never a strength of this team even in their championship runs, is now a complete mess. Guard Mark Glowinski is one of the worst in the NFL. Three other lineman, George Fant, Garry Gilliam and Germain Ifedi don’t even belong in the NFL.
There’s no longer a Marshawn Lynch in the backfield to carry along the defenders that weren’t getting blocked out of the way. Christine Michael is having a mediocre year, averaging just 4.2 yards-per-carry, but his only real failing is that he’s not Beast Mode. Very few runners could succeed behind this line.
Russell Wilson can cover for a lot of problems and he has in recent seasons. He’s also playing well again this year. There’s no issue with his numbers—65.6% completion rate, 7.5 yards-per-attempt and only intercepted on 0.8% of his passes. Considering he has to run for his life on what’s been a bad ankle all year, the fact Wilson avoids more mistakes is testament to his excellence.
But one player can only do so much and as important as the quarterback position is, the fact Seattle ranks 29th in the NFL in points scored with Wilson illustrates the fallacy of reducing handicapping to a simple comparison of quarterbacks. You have to assess an entire roster to see how it creates a winning formula.
Seattle is still winning, make no mistake about it. The Legion of Boom defense still ranks 2nd in the league in points allowed, although with Michael Bennett joining Kam Chancellor on the injured list, we’ll see if any cracks appear there. This is also a team that’s extremely well-coached. And teams with championship pedigrees like this one have a way of finding their way through difficult patches and personnel weaknesses.
Those are good reasons to respect the Seahawks and we do. We’re simply not blind to the obvious flaws. Our game-by-game handicapping decisions are always based on the matchup itself, but when it comes to an overall analysis of that 10-1 Super Bowl and 7-2 NFC Championship price, the next three weeks will be a learning time. Seattle plays Buffalo on Monday (8:30 PM ET, ESPN), New England the following Sunday Night (8:30 PM ET, NBC) and then Philadelphia in a late Sunday afternoon game (4:25 PM ET, Fox) that most of the country will see. We’ll be watching carefully and so should you.