Recent history has shown it's very tough for a team that lost the previous year's Super Bowl to return to the playoffs the next season. And right now, the Seattle Seahawks, the two-time NFC champions, don't look like a playoff team. Well, in the fourth quarter they sure don't. Shoot, now you are hearing rumors that Seattle coach Pete Carroll might be interested in returning to USC. That's not happening, Carroll says. And it's not. Remember, he left with the NCAA on his heels and that program was a mess for a few years due to sanctions for what happened under Carroll's watch.
Seattle (2-4) did catch a break in Week 6 in that NFC West-leading Arizona (4-2) also lost in Pittsburgh despite the Steelers having to use third-string quarterback Landry Jones in the second half. So the Seahawks are only two games back and they still get to face Arizona twice. And the second wild-card spot is in play as well because the NFC is pretty mediocre this season outside of Green Bay, Carolina and Atlanta. You figure either the Panthers or Falcons will get one wild-card spot. Since 1990 only 14 of 168 teams to have started 2-4 reached the playoffs (eight percent).
Bovada oddsmakers still are pretty confident in the Seahawks. They are +160 second-favorites behind Arizona to win the NFC West. Seattle is a +900 fourth-favorite to win the NFC and +2000 to win the Super Bowl.
As for the 49ers (2-4), it's a rebuilding team. They need to decide if Colin Kaepernick is a franchise quarterback because he's being paid like one. I don't expect San Francisco to be a factor in the division race or for a wild-card spot.
Seahawks at 49ers Betting Story Lines
Seattle actually isn't that far away from being 5-1 as three of its losses are by four points or fewer. The only one that the Seahawks really didn't have a great chance of winning was Week 2 in Green Bay, a 27-17 defeat. But that was just a one-point Packer lead about midway through the fourth quarter. On Sunday, Seattle was shocked at home by Carolina, 27-23, despite leading by nine with four minutes left. And therein lies the problem for this team: fourth-quarter defense, dating back to the Super Bowl loss to New England.
The Seahawks, who have held second-half leads in every game this season, have been outscored 61-27 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Over the last two weeks, the unit has given up 30 fourth-quarter points to Andy Dalton and Cam Newton -- two good quarterbacks, sure, but not exactly Tom Brady. Newton was 12-for-15 for 162 yards in the fourth quarter with the game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with 32 seconds left. It was Carolina's second 80-yard scoring drive in that quarter. Seattle did play without Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, but everyone has injuries. Wagner has a good chance of playing Thursday.
Trying to look at the bright side, Marshawn Lynch returned after missing two games with an injury and rushed 17 times for 54 yards and a score. I don't know why Carroll didn't use impressive rookie Thomas Rawls more; he had been playing really well in Lynch's absence but got just one carry vs. Carolina. Jimmy Graham had his best game as a Seahawk, catching eight times for 140 yards. But QB Russell Wilson was under siege again behind that porous offensive line.
San Francisco ended a four-game losing streak with a 25-20 win over Baltimore on Sunday -- wow, what happened to the Ravens this season?! Kaepernick was very good in that game, completing 16-for-27 for a season-high 340 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. Former Raven Anquan Boldin caught five passes for 102 yards and Torrey Smith three for 96 and a score. The Ravens probably still should have won that game. Steve Smith dropped two balls in the end zone and Baltimore failed to jump on a fumbled punt return by Jarryd Hayne despite a handful of Ravens players around the ball. Normally reliable kicker Justin Tucker clanked a 45-yard field goal off the right upright.
Injury-wise, starting 49ers running back Carlos Hyde is playing through a foot injury and had to leave Sunday's game for a bit but should play Thursday. Fellow running back Reggie Bush is likely to return. He hasn't played since Oct. 11 but has done next to nothing so far. Boldin tweaked his hamstring vs. the Ravens so monitor that. Fellow receiver Jerome Simpson is eligible to come off his suspension this week.
Seattle swept the Niners last year. The Seahawks won 19-3 in Santa Clara on a Thursday in Week 13. That ended Seattle's five-game losing streak at San Francisco. Kaepernick threw for only 121 yards and was picked off twice by Richard Sherman. Lynch rushed for 104 yards. The Seahawks then won at home 17-7 in Week 15. Kaepernick threw for only 141 yards and was sacked six times. He always struggles vs. the Seahawks.
Seahawks at 49ers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, Seattle is a 7-point favorite (+115) with a total of 42. The Seahawks are -260 on the moneyline and the 49ers +220. On the alternate lines, the Seahawks are -6.5 (-103), -6 (-110) and -5.5 (-117). They are 1-4-1 against the spread this season and 3-3 "over/under." The 49ers are 3-3 ATS and 4-2 O/U.
Seattle has covered five straight Thursday games. It is 4-1-1 ATS in its past six vs. the NFC West. Seattle is 4-1 ATS in its past five vs. teams with a losing record. The Niners are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 in October. San Francisco is 2-6 ATS in its past eight at home. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five on Thursday. The under is 9-3 in Seattle's past 12 vs. the NFC West. The under is 7-1 in the Niners' past eight on Thursday. Seattle is 6-0-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Seahawks at 49ers Betting Prediction
For a few years there, Seattle-San Francisco was the NFL's best and most-heated rivalry. But that changed the moment the Niners let Jim Harbaugh walk away. Plus obviously both teams are shells of their former championship-caliber selves now. Seattle is the vastly more talented team here. And this is just about a must-win game. I'll give the alternate number of 5.5 points and go under the total.
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