Free Expert NFL Picks: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/15/2015
When I previewed the first game of the 2014 NFL regular season, in which Green Bay visited Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 6, I wrote that it wouldn't shock me at all if the two teams played in January's NFC Championship Game. True, I realize I wasn't exactly going out on a limb there, but here we are with the top-seeded Seahawks hosting the No. 2 Packers in Sunday's first game for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.
With all due respect to Dallas, these are the NFC's two best teams when everyone is healthy. Green Bay and Seattle were the only teams to go 7-1 over the final eight games of the regular season. The Packers are 3-2 all time in the NFC title game and have won their past two on the road. Green Bay has won the previous two postseason matchups against the Seahawks, with both games taking place at Lambeau Field. I read little into that latter statistic because the last meeting was the 2007 divisional round.
At Bovada , Seattle is the 5/4 favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX and 4/13 to win the NFC. The Seahawks are -155 not to win the Super Bowl. They have opened as 3-point favorites against New England and 6.5 against Indianapolis. Seattle didn't play either in the regular season. Green Bay is 11/2 to win the Super Bowl and 5/2 to win the NFC. The Packers are -900 not to win the Super Bowl. Green Bay opened at +2.5 against New England and -3 against Indianapolis. The Pack beat the Patriots in a close game at Lambeau in Week 13 and didn't play Indy.
Packers at Seahawks Betting Story Lines
Let's get to the injuries first. Obviously the major one is to Aaron Rodgers' calf. It really seemed to hamper him early in last week's 26-21 win over Dallas, but Rodgers improved as the game went on. Rodgers completed his final 10 passes and finished 15 of 20 for 227 yards and two touchdowns in the second half against the Cowboys. Rodgers didn't move around in the pocket much because of that calf -- he attempted only four passes outside the pocket -- and took a lot of snaps in the pistol formation to limit movement. Expect that to continue. The Cowboys didn't get much pressure on him, but the Seahawks' defense is much better.
(I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Dez Bryant "catch" that might have won the game for Dallas. It was ruled correctly, but it's a terrible rule and will be addressed this offseason.)
Seattle lost rookie receiver Paul Richardson to a torn ACL in the 31-17 win over Carolina last Saturday. He caught 29 passes for 271 yards and a TD this season as the team's third receiver. Pete Carroll said a rotation featuring Kevin Norwood, Ricardo Lockette and Chris Matthews will be used to replace Richardson. Seattle center Max Unger left the Panthers game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury but will play. So will cornerback Byron Maxwell, who played sparingly against Carolina while battling shortness of breath.
In Week 1, Seattle beat Green Bay 36-16. The Seahawks won in typical Seahawks fashion. Russell Wilson was solid (19 of 28 for 191 yards and two touchdowns), Marshawn Lynch was a beast (20 carries, 110 yards, two touchdowns) and the defense dominated. The Packers had only 255 total yards. Rodgers was 23 of 33 for 189 yards with a TD and a pick while being sacked three times. Rodgers didn't even look to the side of the field that Seahawks star cornerback Richard Sherman occupied. He will have to Sunday.
That game was informative as to how different Green Bay's offense was this season on the road compared to at home. The Pack were 4-4 away from home and averaged 17.2 fewer points on the road per game, the largest home/road differential in the NFL.
I worry about Green Bay's No. 23 run defense. The Cowboys' No. 2 rush offense had 145 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries last week. Seattle is the No. 1 rush team in the NFL at 172.6 yards per game, 30 more than last season. Lynch has accounted for 39 percent of Seattle's offensive touches this season alongside an NFL-best 17 touchdowns. Plus Wilson has three 100-yard rushing games and is averaging 53.1 rushing yards per outing since Week 10.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks NFC Championship Game Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Seattle is an 8.5-point favorite (+110) with alternate lines of 8 (+105), 7.5 (+100), 7 (-120) and 6.5 (-140). The Seahawks are -320 on the moneyline and Packers +260. The total is 46.5 points. Green Bay is 9-7-1 against the spread (3-5 on road) and 11-6 "over/under" (4-4 on road). Seattle is 10-6-1 ATS (6-2-1) and 9-8 O/U (5-4 at home).
Green Bay has covered six of its past eight following an ATS loss. Seattle is 4-0-1 in its past five after an ATS win. The Seahawks are 5-1 ATS in their past six playoff games. The under is 5-2 in the Packers' past seven overall. The over is 7-3 in Green Bay's past 10 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The under is 4-1 in Seattle's past five vs. teams with a winning record.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks Expert Picks and Betting Predictions
Green Bay was a perfect 4-0 ATS on the way to winning the Super Bowl in the 2011 season. Outside of that, however, the Packers are 1-5 ATS under Rodgers in the playoffs. Seattle is 5-0-1 ATS under Wilson in the playoffs.
Both this game and the AFC title game are regular-season rematches. Since 1990, there have been 30 conference championship games rematches from the regular season. In those games, the winner of the last regular-season meeting -- it's noted as last meeting for intradivision games where teams played twice -- went 18-12 straight up in the conference championship game. The favorite in the rematch has covered 17 of the 30 games. There have been six instances of the same teams meeting in Week 1 and then again in the conference championship. All six times, the team that won in Week 1 also won the conference title game.
So those trends above favor Seattle, which is 16-0 at home since Wilson's rookie year when scoring at least 24 points. I do believe Green Bay has a much better chance of winning on the road Sunday than Indianapolis does. If Rodgers was healthy, I might even pick the Packers. I would have taken the points. However, I'm giving the 6.5 points and going under.
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