November 05, 2012

NFL Odds, Week 8: Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions

What would the odds have been on that second ranked passing offense having Calvin Johnson with a solitary touchdown to his name? You would have been able to make up your own odds. Go away quietly now son, this ain’t no time to be fooling with the oddsmakers. It ain’t gonna happen so have whatever price you like. And just like that we all fattened our pockets on the Matthew Stafford to Johnson conduit becoming as clogged as a hardening artery.
Perhaps as a reminder of Johnson’s sporting mortality or simply because Seattle’s brashest young cornerback has a reputation to maintain as Seattle’s brashest young cornerback, Richard Sherman added a little spice to this contest by transforming his Twitter handle this week to ‘Optimus Prime’, a burst of friendly fire in the direction of Johnson’s ‘Megatron’ moniker.
This wasn’t so much Sherman calling Johnson out, as many in the media have portrayed it (but why wouldn’t they?), more a reminder of who’s coming to town and Johnson took it superbly well, simply saying, “Self-given nickname. Hey, if that’s who he wants to be, that’s cool.” No, what’s cool is that you ain’t mad, bro, and despite it being a relatively innocent gesture on Sherman’s part (with only a slight hint of mischief mixed in), I’ll wager Sherman was hoping for a meatier response from Johnson. Despite him being the opposition this week, you have to like a player who decides he’ll let his football do the talking.
Dare you bet against the Seahawks this week as the underdog? In plain old black and white, no you don’t. They’re 5-0 ATS as the ‘dog and can be backed +2.5 this week. The Lions (available -1) are 2-4 ATS on the season and 0-2 ATS at home as the favourite, failing to cover at Ford Field against the Rams and Vikings. Seattle are sure to prove popular among bettors based on all of that, but that run will come to an end somewhere and it’s more likely to happen on the road that at the CLink.
I’m all for backing a team coming off an emotional loss, particularly a contender (even of the wild card variety) and the Seahawks will know that, but for some abysmal drops among its backs and receivers last week, they would have pushed the 49ers a lot closer than 13-6. I appreciate that I’m preaching to the converted here, but Seattle can easily win this SU so any points on offer is simply a bonus and I’ll say here, long before the end of this post, that I think the Seahawks will win from scratch.
Frank Gore showed other running backs the way last week, rushing for 131 yards on Seattle’s vaunted run defense, each of his 16 attempts going straight up the gut, between the tackles. It was alarming to watch from a biased viewpoint and is thankfully something unlikely to be repeated this week. Mikel LeShoure, Kevin Smith and Joique Bell aren’t names to strike fear into that aforementioned run D, averaging as they are 4 yards per carry as a committee. ‘Megatron’, over to you.
Ex-Seahawk Nate Burleson was lost for the season this week after suffering a leg fracture last Monday against the Bears and he’ll certainly be missed, if for no other reason than he leads Detroit in receiving touchdowns this season with two. Yes, two. I’ve just had to triple check that the Lions really do rank second in the league in passing.
Titus Young and Ryan Broyles will be expected to step up some in Burleson’s absence, but that won’t overly worry Seattle’s secondary. Not this week. Johnson naturally will for sure, but Stafford isn’t enjoying a stellar season, throwing five touchdowns against six interceptions and the Lions really are there for the taking. Football can seem such a simple game sometimes.
Detroit struggled mightily last week in Chicago, only getting on the scoreboard with 30 seconds remaining when Broyles caught the first touchdown of his pro career. Perhaps it’s a mite harsh of me to say they struggled mightily as it’s not as though they didn’t move the ball, but three red zone turnovers is unforgivable.
The Bears boast a top ten defense, as does Seattle, and while it’s easy to think that the Lions can be expected to struggle again this week, playing on the road at a division rival on a hot streak on a Monday night is a far cry from playing at home to a team who struggle to pass the ball effectively.
Labouring the obvious point, it must be hoped that Marshawn Lynch can shred Detroit’s run defense for more than the 108.8 yards per game they’re currently yielding. He and Robert Turbin both average 4.4 yards per carry and have combined for only two touchdowns, which doesn’t properly tell the full story of Seattle’s eighth ranked rushing offense.
The Lions are likely to dare Russell Wilson to pass on them as he won’t project any fear into a Detroit pass defense giving up 210.5 yards per game through the air, good for sixth in the NFL. While Wilson isn’t easily flustered, he’s thrown each of his seven interceptions this season on the road. That said, he put the ball in exactly the right place plenty of times on the road last week and can’t account for his targets not sticking to their end of the bargain.
Last week’s loss in San Francisco was hard to swallow and the more I research this game and write about it, the more the feeling exists that the Seahawks are the more motivated for this one. I base it on a lingering hurt from last week and the knowledge in Seattle that this team plays five of its last eight games at its fortress of a home stadium, where Wilson has yet to throw a pick and boasts a 116.9 passer rating.
To leave Detroit with a 5-3 record and the most brutal part of the schedule in the rear view mirror would keep them firmly in the division title hunt and at worst bang in the mix for a wild card spot. I would have settled for that after eight games.
Please gamble responsibly.

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