Two of the hottest teams in the NFL are on a collision course this Sunday at FedEx Field.
The Seattle Seahawks (11-5) and the Washington Redskins (10-6) will bang heads at 4:30 p.m. EST on Sunday in Washington. The Redskins, the NFC East Champions, are the No. 4 seed in the conference and, therefore, earned the right to host the top wild card team, No. 5 seed Seattle.
Here is a look at the final game of the Wild Card weekend:
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins Betting Storylines
The obvious storyline in this game is that this will be the first postseason appearance for stellar rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. The two first-year signal callers have both played a huge hand in their teams’ success and, along with Andrew Luck, have been part of a spirited debate by the mainstream media as to who is the best rookie quarterback in the league.
However, neither Seattle nor Washington is still playing solely because of their quarterbacks. And while the bobblehead media has been quick to point to the success of these first-year players as proof of an NFL Renaissance, the truth is that both teams are still alive because they have stuck to a tried-and-true pro football formula: run the ball and play great defense.
Washington is the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL thanks in part to Griffin (815 yards) and fellow super-rookie Alfred Morris (1,610 yards). The Redskins are ranked just No. 28 in the league in defense. However, they are No. 5 in rushing defense and have allowed more than 21 points just twice in their last eight games.
Seattle is No. 3 in the NFL in rushing and leans on Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, whose Beast Mode is the stuff of legend, ran for 1,590 yards this season while churning out 5.0 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns. Lynch ran for 131 yards on 19 carriers in Seattle’s 41-36 Wild Card home upset win over New Orleans in 2011, and he is a proven big-game player.
But the strength of this Seahawks team is on its No. 4 rated defense. Seattle has given up the fewest points in football, just 15.3 per game, and they are ranked in the Top 10 against both the pass (No. 6) and the run (No. 10).
The oddsmakers and the sharp early bettors were decisive this week in making the Redskins a home underdog. However, since 1980 there have been 30 teams posted as a home underdog in the postseason. Those teams have gone 20-10 straight up and an exceptional 20-9-1 against the spread.
NFL playoff home underdogs have gone just 6-6 straight up and 7-5 ATS dating back to 2004, including Denver’s overtime upset in the Wild-Card Round last year and San Francisco’s thrilling upset of New Orleans in the Divisional Round last year.
These two teams met last November in Seattle, and Washington pulled off the 23-17 upset. The Redskins trailed 17-7 in the fourth quarter but used a 16-0 burst to close the game and earn a rare victory for a road team in the Emerald City.
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins NFL Odds
This game was released at a ‘pick’ immediately after Washington beat Dallas last Sunday to earn this playoff berth. That line was immediately bet up to Seattle -2.0, and the line has steadily climbed this week. It is presently at the Seahawks -3.0 and the total in this game has settled in at 46.0.
Seahawks at Redskins Picks and NFL Betting Predictions
I do think that Seattle is the stronger team here. But it’s impossible to ignore those statistics about NFL home underdogs in the playoffs. Washington survived a do-or-die situation last week, and playing at home again this Sunday gives them a sense of the stronger momentum. If Seattle has had a weakness, it has been going on the road. And over the past decade the home teams in Seahawks games have covered the spread nearly 62 percent of the time.
I will be looking hard at the total in this game, and I predict that it will go “under”. I know that both of these offenses have been strong over the last month and that there is a lot of buzz about the rookie quarterbacks. But I think that both coaches are going to be conservative early, as everyone is afraid of making the first costly mistake in a game like this. Seattle has been scoring points in bunches recently, including a run of three straight December games scoring 42 or more. But if you look at what this team has done on the road this year – discounting the lopsided 50-17 win over Buffalo on a neutral site – there has been an average of just 36.0 points per game scored. And when the Seahawks have played on grass, they have seen an average of just 33 points per game. Take the under.
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