The Seattle Seahawks showed they can win on the road – provided the other team’s quarterback isn’t healthy. Do the circumstances surrounding their Wild Card victory make them a better or worse pick against the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL betting lines?


Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:

0-4 ATS (–4.22 units)

3-1 Totals (+1.9 units)

Profit: –2.32 units 

Image previewIt was a fitting end to a lousy Wild Card Weekend. Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III came into Sunday’s game with a bad knee, made it much worse in the first quarter, then finally had to come off the field late in the fourth – but not before gift-wrapping a 24-14 victory for the Seahawks (–3 away). I had both Washington and the OVER, making this the only total I missed last week while completing my 0-4 ATS demise. Shenanigans!

Not-lanta 

I’m okay with this. The Griffin story pretty much overshadows anything the Seahawks (12-5 SU and ATS) did in this game, which is fantastic for this Sunday’s matchup with the Falcons (13-3 SU, 9-6-1 ATS). Atlanta opened as a 2.5-point favorite on the NFL odds board. And although I’ve made good money supporting the underappreciated Falcons this year, I can’t support them this week. Not against Seattle, and not with that pointspread. 

Betting on football is a much simpler exercise when the home side is favored by around a field goal. Three points is the way we traditionally value home-field advantage, so Atlanta –2.5 is the market’s way of saying it likes both the Falcons and the Seahawks about the same. Now look at the efficiency charts: Seattle finished the regular season No. 1 overall with one of the best years on record. Atlanta finished No. 10 overall. Case closed, I’m picking Seattle, please drive through.

Turner the Timewaster 

Image previewOkay, now let’s see if secondary concerns can sway me from my initial NFL picks. The big NFL betting angle with the Seahawks is their famous home/away split: 7-1 ATS at home, 5-4 ATS away. That was one of my motivations for taking Washington last week, when that away record was still 4-4 ATS. But Seattle has now covered its last three road games. And recent results matter much more for the Seahawks, who have lost just one game since November as rookie QB Russell Wilson (100.0 passer rating, 5.2 yards per carry) has blossomed.

Atlanta has an interesting split, too: 4-4 ATS at home and 5-2-1 ATS away. Also, the UNDER is 7-1 at the Georgia Dome compared to 4-4 elsewhere. The Falcons are No. 12 overall in defensive efficiency; they’ve cut down their carries a lot this year, recognizing that Michael Turner (3.6 yards per carry) just isn’t what he used to be at age 30, but Turner still gets his touches. All good news for the underdog Seahawks. 

The Knees of St. Clemons 

There’s one injury note for the Seahawks that gives me pause. Their top pass-rusher, DE Chris Clemons (11.5 sacks), suffered a torn ACL and a torn meniscus against Washington and is reportedly out for the season. But even this isn’t too much of a concern; first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin has eight sacks this year in a limited role and seems ready to make the leap to every-down action. We’ll revisit this situation if Seattle advances to face a better running team in the next round (cough cough San Francisco 49ers cough).

There are no gimmies in football betting, ever. If Seattle can cover in this situation 60 percent of the time, that would be highly profitable indeed. But of the four Divisional round games, this is the one I feel best about. May the prolate spheroid be with you.

NFL Picks: Seahawks +2.5 (+103) at 5Dimes