The most watched game of the day is also going to be the most bet game of the day. I think it's safe to say everyone is looking forward to this match-up, especially those of us who love great defense. Let's take a closer look at what the betting angles are.
Before Week 15, Vegas had the 49ers as -2 point favorites in this game. Despite a statement win in Foxboro, the Seahawks re-opened as -1 point favorites on Sunday. Not much has changed during the week either, but there has been some late money on Seattle today. You can find Seattle at -1, but some books have them as high as -3, too (odds from SBRforum). That is kind of surprising because the 49ers are sure to be popular teaser choices at anything above +1.5. Normally when I like a short favorite, I tell people to grab them at anything under -3, but given how tight this could be, I suggest to get the best number possible. Laying more than -1 could come into the equation here.
Any Analysis Needed?
In the three games that the 49ers lost this year, it was also the only three games where they lost the turnover battle. It might be silly to pick a side in this matchup when it's all going to come down to turnovers, but that just might be the formula to success.
Both teams are built on incredible defenses, a strong running game, and a dangerous and mobile rookie QB. Yet, Sherman is expected to play while J Smith is not. I don't think it was an accident that the Patriots began their comeback when Smith left the game with an injury. That loss cannot be underestimated. Russell Wilson has already ascended into a quality QB over the last couple of months, but he'll be even more dangerous with Smith out of the lineup. Aldon Smith might have 19 sacks, but Russell Okung has only given up 1 sack, too. Wilson has climbed from the bottom of QB efficiency rankings to 10th. That is simply remarkable.
At the same time, Kaepernick isn't far behind. Despite only a handful of starts, he sits around the middle of the pack in the advanced stats metrics. In spurts, he looks like an unstoppable, dominant threat, but he does continue to make really stupid rookie mistakes too. With Sherman in the lineup, he's going to need to demonstrate some extra patience and accuracy when targeting Crabtree. Look for him to rely more on his legs than usual in this one.
I have lingering nightmares betting against the Seahawks at home this year. First came the infamous Packers-replacement-ref game and it was followed by an inexplicable loss with the Patriots. Seattle is a perfect 6-0 against the spread this season. The Cowboys were 0-6 ATS at home leading up to last week. A bad sign? Perhaps, but I can't ignore the value on Seattle in this game. I like how they match-up. In fact, they don't rank below average in any of the advanced stat categories I look at (all 17). I can't say the same thing for the 49ers, who still rank near the bottom in pass protection and inside the red zone on both sides of the ball.
NFL Pick: Seahawks.