Seattle-Green Bay Divisional Betting Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 01/10/2008
There is something so familiar about this weekend's NFL Divisional Round matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers.
I'm not talking about seeing Mike Holmgren trolling the sidelines in Lambeau Field guiding a team through another playoff battle in the uncompassionate January cold. And it isn't Brett Favre flinging five-yard shovel passes in another mad postseason two-minute drill. And it isn't even the fact that this is a rematch of a classic overtime game played just two Januarys ago.
No, none of these threads and storylines came to mind when I first pondered the impending Seahawks-Packers tussle. The first thing that came to mind was the game that ended Seattle's season last year. The Seahawks rolled into Chicago as a heavy underdog to the NFC North favorites and not only covered, but also nearly knocked off the Bears in the brutal elements of the Midwest. The underestimated Seahawks relied on a surprising toughness and plenty of playoff experience to keep them close, and will need every bit of those attributes when they lace them up this weekend.
Seattle is a steep nine-point underdog in this game, set to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in Green Bay. The total for this game is currently at 42. The Packers boast the league's No. 2 offense and No. 12 defense while the Seahawks were ranked ninth and 15th, respectively in the regular season.
Seattle has been an exceptional playoff underdog under Holmgren, covering three of their last four in those spots with the one loss coming courtesy of a hose job in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks have their best defense of the last six seasons and they are sporting a nearly double-digit cushion. Kick in the fact that they are 7-1 against the spread as an underdog of seven or more off a win and you have yourself a strong situation on the puppy.
However, and it always comes back to this when you're handicapping the Seahawks, Seattle is an absolutely pathetic 6-13-1 ATS in its last 20 road games. They are simply not the same team on grass and have been a horrendous bet when traveling east of the Mississippi. This season they made three such trips - at Pittsburgh, at Cleveland, and at Carolina - and lost all three.
Green Bay has been a cash machine over the past two seasons, with their three-receiver sets overwhelming opponents. They are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games and 18-7-2 ATS dating back to last October. They were the clear-cut No. 2 team in the NFC this season and are 6-1-1 ATS at home this season, winning their last four home games by an average of 25 points per game.
But there is no doubt that this line is inflated because of the Favre Factor. The public frequently lines up to throw piles upon piles of square money upon the Altar of Favre the Almighty. This is especially true in the playoffs and as a result the books often tack on a few extra points to the line to compensate. Consequently, the Packers are 1-4 ATS as a postseason favorite dating back to the 1997 Super Bowl.
The statistics don't show me a glaring weakness either way. Green Bay is a much more efficient team on third down but Seattle has a huge edge in penalties and a modest advantage in turnovers. The only area where I would say there is a noticeable discrepancy is that Green Bay is much better running the ball while both teams are equal when it comes to stopping the run.
I will be a bit surprised if Seattle gets blown out of Lambeau Field on Saturday. They can move the ball effectively through the air and their defensive front seven may be even better than Green Bay's. Further, the Packers feature a lot of players that will be making their postseason debut whereas Seattle's entire roster is made of men hardened by past playoff trials. That made a huge difference in the Windy City last season and could be a big factor this weekend. This line is about three points too high so now it's up you if you want to blaspheme against Super Brett.
Carpe diem, my friend, and good luck.