Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field, 8 p.m. EST. Jan 7, 2017.
Game 2 of wild-card Saturday sees the Detroit Lions travel to CenturyLink Field to take on the NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks. The Lions could have avoided this matchup by beating the Green Bay Packers last week in the regular season finale, but failed to do so and failed to capture what would have been their first NFC North Title since 1993.
Because of their failure, they must now go up against a defense that ranks in the Top 10 in all major defensive categories and in a loud and hostile environment. Matthew Stafford will be in tough to replicate his regular-season production against a Seattle defense that gives up only 18.3 points per game, 225.8 passing yards per game and just 318 total yards per game. The fact that Detroit doesn't really have a run game to keep the defense honest should worry bettors and fans who think Detroit can pull off the upset in this matchup.
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On the other hand, the Seahawks come into this game with a record of 10-5 and winners of six of their last nine games . The offense looks like it has finally found some consistency to it, and Russell Wilson looks healthy enough to lead the Seahawks on a deep postseason run. However, like the Lions, the Seahawks' main concern is their lack of run game. Starting tailback Thomas Rawls carried the ball just eight times in the Week 17 win against San Francisco. He is currently listed on the injury report as "day-to-day," which could mean more playing time for his backups. Eight different players had at least one rushing attempt last week, and that includes both Wilson and backup QB Trevone Boykin. It will be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the carries against the Lions and if they can be effective or not against the 18 th-ranked rush-defense.
This would be a great game to tease down and get the Seahawks favored by less than a field goal. Check out my Basic Strategy Teaser article for how to play teasers that fall within the key numbers of 3 and 7. Maybe tease it with the total.
Because this isn't a teaser article, I have some solid prop bets that I think can make us some money.
All odds are courtesy of Sports Interaction .
Total Points (Bands)
41-50 Points (+188)
The posted total is currently set at 43 points, so this band gives us a three-point cushion under the number and a six-point cushion over it. I do believe there will be points scored in this football game, but when Las Vegas sets a number, they are usually spot on.
After doing some lengthy research, I came across a stat that has the Seahawks ranked 30th in DVOA (a method of evaluating teams, units or players) since Week 12 - a span in which injured safety Earl Thomas played only one quarter. Since that week, the Seahawks defense has given up more than 30 points twice in four games. They had not given up 30 points in the first 12 weeks of the season. When I saw those numbers, I thought about the Ewing Theory - except opposite. The Ewing Theory is a theory about how when a team's star player gets injured (in this case the best defensive player), the rest of the team steps up and the team plays even better. I feel like Thomas' absence has made the Seahawks weaker and has impacted several other defensive players.
What I'm trying to get at is this: Matthew Stafford is good enough and has the receiving corps to be able to move the ball up and down the field and put points on the board. We already know about the shaky defense the Lions possess, which should allow Wilson to make plays when Seattle is on offense. I fully expect the game to be right around the posted total, which is why this Total Points Band is the best totals bet.
Team Touchdowns - Detroit
"Over" 1.5 -125
The Detroit Lions average 21.6 points per game and have found the end zone 36 times as a team throughout the year. That works out to 2.25 touchdowns per game on average. I already explained in the above section how the Seahawks defense has struggled lately. But what I didn't mention was who they allowed to score all those points. They gave up 38 to the Packers, which is reasonable considering the Packers' recent form. But they also gave up 34 at home to a terrible Cardinals team with nothing to play for, and they just finished giving up 23 to the 49ers. Not exactly how you expect one of the top defenses in the league to finish up the season.
Detroit knows they are coming into this game with the underdog label, and Jim Caldwell, despite how uninterested he may look on the sideline, knows he must take chances in this game in order to pull of the upset. This means extending drives by going for it on fourth down and opening the playbook and allowing Stafford to do what he does best, which is be a gunslinger.
I already expect this game to reach the total, so it only makes sense that both teams will contribute to the cause.
Detroit by 6 or more +550/Seattle by 6 or more -188/Any Other Result +240
No matter what predictions you read, or prognosticators you follow, everyone is generally saying the same thing. Seattle will win this game and it won't even be close. I am here to tell you that it will be close, and this is the best option available if you want to take Detroit on the spread or Seattle on the money line.
Seattle is currently priced at -380 on the money line, which is a line I hope no bettor will ever think is a good price. Detroit is -105 to cover the eight-point spread, which is reasonable, but I am willing to bet this game doesn't end with a Seahawks victory by exactly six or seven points.
I've already given you all the stats and facts regarding the Seahawks defense and Lions offense in the above two predictions. I am not a big fan of laying the big number in regular-season games, let alone the playoffs.
While I do believe two prominent trends will continue - Detroit has lost eight straight playoff games and Seattle has won nine straight home playoff games, I think it's going to be a lot closer than most people think and it will ultimately come down to a game-winning field goal by either kicker.
Pick: Any Other Result +240
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