When the NFL schedule is released each April, you will quickly find a Top-10 (or 15 or whatever number) list of the best regular-season matchups for that coming season at several sports sites, including this one. And good luck finding one of those lists from this past spring that didn't have this Sunday night's Seattle-New England game -- a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX -- at the top. It's the second straight stellar matchup on NBC as in Week 9 it was Denver at Oakland for the AFC West lead, and I correctly backed the Raiders and "over" the total of 43.5.
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Pretty much every sportsbook has Seahawks-Patriots as the favored Super Bowl LI matchup in Houston this February. At 5Dimes, for example, it is priced at +700. The only other game below +1210 is Patriots-Cowboys at +780.
It's because of Dallas (7-1) that Seattle (5-2-1) probably needs this game more. The Seahawks are currently in good shape to win the NFC West with a two-game lead over Arizona. The Rams and 49ers are non-factors. Dallas is the only NFC team with fewer losses than Seattle in the chase for the conference's top seed. As good as Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has been, I can see him having some trouble in the extremely loud Pacific Northwest in a potential NFC Championship Game. Obviously getting that game in Dallas would be much easier on the rookie. The Seahawks and Cowboys don't play in the regular season.
New England (7-1) is the lone one-loss team in the AFC, and it probably only needs to worry about Oakland (7-2) for that conference's top seed. Those teams don't play in the regular season. The Raiders are on the bye this week but have a much tougher schedule the rest of the way than the Patriots do.
Seahawks at Patriots Betting Story Lines
Want to know one reason why these teams have been so good for a while? Obviously you know about Tom Brady being a sixth-round pick. And while both have drafted well of late too, they really have done their homework in finding diamonds in the rough in terms of undrafted free agents. The Seahawks have had 66 different undrafted players on their 53-man roster at any point since 2014. New England has had 61. You obviously don't win without stars at QB like Brady or Russell Wilson (a third-round pick), but you also need depth to contend annually.
Seattle improved to 3-0 vs. New England's AFC East this season with a tougher-than-expected 31-25 home win over Buffalo on Monday that could have easily gone the other way. First off, there was a ridiculous non-penalty call on Richard Sherman clearly roughing the Buffalo kicker at the end of the first half that cost the Bills what would prove to be three valuable points. They also had first-and-goal at the Seattle 10 in the final minute but couldn't punch it in.
Obviously Pete Carroll will take any win, but his defense was totally pushed around. The Bills, not exactly an offensive powerhouse, had 425 total yards, including 162 on the ground, and held possession for a shocking 40:17. Winning with the ground game and holding the ball is usually what Seattle does. On the bright side, Russell Wilson played perhaps his best game of the year in completing 20 of 26 for 282 yards and two scores while rushing for a TD. And Jimmy Graham looked as good as he has all year off injury, catching eight passes for 103 yards and two TDs.
That Seattle defense, which is No. 3 in scoring (16.8 ppg), will face a big test in the Patriots, who come off their bye and have been clicking on all cylinders since Brady returned from his four-game suspension. In double-digit wins over the Browns, Bengals, Steelers and Bills, Brady is completing 73.1 percent of his throws for 12 TDs with no picks and an absurd rating of 133.9 that would easily be an NFL single-season record. Rob Gronkowski has also blown up since Brady returned. The Seahawks are expecting Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor to return this week after missing four games due to injury, and I'm sure he and Gronk will be matched up often.
Seahawks at Patriots Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, New England is an 8.5-point favorite (+110) with a total of 49. On the moneyline, the Patriots are -360 and Seahawks +300. On the alternate lines, the Pats are -7.5 (+100) and -7 (-120). Seattle is 4-4 against the spread this season (2-2 on the road) and 4-4 "over/under" (1-3 on road). New England is 7-1 ATS (3-1 at home) and 3-5 O/U (2-2 at home).
The Seahawks are 5-1 ATS in their past six after scoring at least 30 points in their previous game. They have covered only three of their past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. Seattle is 2-6 ATS in its past eight after a win. The Patriots are 4-1 ATS in their past five off a bye. They are 8-1-1 ATS in their past 10 following scoring at least 30 in their previous game. The over is 7-2 in Seattle's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in New England's past five out of a bye week. It's 11-4 in New England's previous 15 vs. teams with a winning record.
Seahawks at Patriots Betting Prediction
In that amazing Super Bowl two years ago, the Patriots closed as very slight favorites and won 28-24 thanks to some boneheaded play-calling from Seattle. With just over a minute left and first-and-goal at the Patriots' 5, the Seahawks gave the ball to perhaps the most powerful running back in the NFL at the time in since-retired Marshawn Lynch. He gained four yards, giving him 102 on the night. So naturally you give it to Lynch again on second-and-goal at the 1. Except the Seahawks didn't, and Wilson was picked off by Malcolm Butler, an undrafted guy who jumped a crossing route. It was the most unlikely ending in Super Bowl history, and Butler, now a key member of the New England secondary, still probably doesn't pay for anything when he's out and about in New England. Brady was the game's MVP after throwing for 328 yards and four scores (also two picks).
I really wish the schedule was fairer here. It's not right the Seahawks are on a short week, have to travel about as far as possible and the Patriots are so well-rested. Despite all that, I'm taking the 8.5 points. The last time the Seahawks were this big of an underdog was Oct. 8, 2012, when they played the 49ers and lost 13-6. I doubt Seattle can win here, but it should stay within a touchdown. Go over the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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