September 05, 2012

NFL Preseason: Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos

Not a bad way to begin matters, eh? Last Saturday went very smoothly. One down and we own a 100% record.
Oh yeah, and the Seahawks dismantled the Titans of Tennessee, 27-17.
I ceded to post-Olympic emotion last week in picking Seattle -3 points to cover the spread and vowed that would be my sole, heart-over-head pick the entire season. If I’m honest, that may not necessarily be accurate because a good old fashioned hunch can have a substantial say when it comes to handing over your hard earned to your friendly sportsbook compiler, but you’ll no doubt see me elaborate on this further once the regular season kicks in.

Due to a quirk in the preseason schedule, the Seahawks come face to face with another Tennessee titan this week, of the Volunteer variety this time. Peyton Manning avoided anything much of anything defensive when up against Chicago last week and, to deviate slightly, I should perhaps be casting nervous glances towards Illinois.
The Bears are my Super Bowl XLVII tip (I’m on at 33/1 and they’re still available on many books at 28/1) so what am I to make of their 31-3 drubbing at the hands of the Broncos last week? At Soldier Field, no less. Note that I should be casting nervous glances. I’m not because results in the preseason count for nothing. In addition, Week 1 of the preseason sees vanilla packages and schemes and the time to look too closely at what transpired certainly isn’t now…unless, perhaps, you’re of an Arizona Cardinals leaning.
Back to Manning, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) we’ll see much more of him than last week, when he went 4 of 7 for 44 yards and an interception. However, he’ll be up against a Seattle front four more imposing than anything he saw against the Bears and, against a top tier secondary, this will be the first real test of Manning’s ability since his well documented injuries/surgeries.
When the Seahawks’ offense takes the field, it’s business as usual (if such business can be usual after one week of implementation) as Matt Flynn has been promised the start with Russell Wilson showcasing his abilities over the final 30 minutes. Both QBs had their moments against the Titans, but it was Wilson who proved the more eye catching (naturally, one assumes) and the quiet buzz about the rookie pushing to be the starter in Week 1 of the regular season will only increase should he perform similarly in Denver. Personally, I hope that Flynn shows enough to warrant the money thrown at him and beats out Wilson, for now.
Wilson would prove to be a fabulous weapon once proper football starts, coming off the bench if required or if/when Flynn really does stink the joint up on Any…Given…Sunday.

In the longer term, Wilson becomes the quarterback upon which we rest our Super Bowl hopes, exciting and dazzling us in equal measure, or he’s developed and moulded into All Pro trade bait. I’m loving both of our QBs at present and rarely has addition by subtraction been more clearly defined than via the sudden, almost rude demotion of Tarvaris Jackson. Two quarterbacks will always trump three quarterbacks and if the position under center could emit emotion, you can almost hear the exhalation and loosening of the belt from our old friend that once housed Jim Zorn, Dave Krieg and Matt Hasselbeck.
When considering the spread for the matchup against the Broncos, there’s a significant point of interest which goes some way to explaining the difficulty in gauging exactly what lies ahead come kickoff during the preseason.
My own take on events is that the Seahawks are deserving of +3.5 points on the handicap. Our partners at oddsshark.com see things a little differently, offering Seattle +2.5. However, many sportsbooks can’t split the teams and offer PK. As a brief introduction to this nomenclature, PK is an abbreviation for “pick” or “pick ‘em”, indicating that neither team is favoured nor the underdog, meaning the point spread is zero. Effectively, you’re betting on either team from scratch.
So, the Seahawks can be backed with an almost field goal start, which I do see being popular. I would advise against that, but I’m wary of being too emphatic as literally anything can happen on Saturday.
Despite coaches and coordinators opening up the playbook a little more this week, it can be expected that starters will see no more than two or three series. For those of you encouraged by Seattle plus any points on offer, the drop off in talent under center once Manning departs is cavernous when compared to Jake Locker replacing Matt Hasselbeck; step forward Caleb Hanie, Brock Osweiler and Adam Weber.

Seattle will feel confident when Manning isn’t throwing the ball, having done a tremendous job of stopping Chris Johnson last week and, whoever’s given the early carries for Denver on Saturday will be running behind an offensive line missing starting guard Chris Kuper, who’s out for a few weeks with a broken forearm. Yes, I expect the Seahawks to begin the game very positively and if this were in the regular season, it’s a mouth watering encounter.

I am accentuating the positives for Seattle here, but I’m swayed from going all in on them for a couple of reasons, the first being that it’s a road game. It’s fair and dandy for us to look at last week as a tantalising peek into a brave new Seahawks future and I’m as excited as anybody reading this. However, these posts aren’t meant to paint a College Navy, Action Green and Wolf Grey picture. It’s about how I view the betting angle and, this particular week, I embrace Denver (PK).

So, while last week was a thing of beauty in many ways, visiting the Broncos is a different proposition. This is a stern test for Flynn, Wilson, Robert Turbin et al and comes at the perfect time. Only after the dust has settled on this one can we speak about the Seahawks’ progress objectively.

The Broncos enter this one on a high after last week and there likely won’t be an empty seat anywhere as No. 18 is all that matters to the natives.

I’m loath to burst any bubbles here so wish to bring to your attention to what appears to be an absolutely stonking bet in Week 1 of the regular season. Considering the problems the Arizona Cardinals are enduring at present, it’s positively ludicrous that the Seahawks are currently available +2 points with William Hill. I kid you not.

Now, the Cardinals are at home this week after two consecutive road games in the Midwest so I expect to read better reports of them after Friday. However, that’s no guarantee as they really are in a rut and if they don’t find a way to quickly settle their quarterback controversy, confidence around the franchise will hit rock bottom and the line will surely shift towards Seattle. That looks to be the bet of Week 1 by some margin, but I do also like Cleveland +9 points at home to Philadelphia. Honestly!

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