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Wild Card Pick
The last Wild Card game of the weekend features two red hot teams as the Seattle Seahawks visit the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks opened as -3 point road favorites at 5 Dimes sportsbook with a total of 46. The line is still -3 but with heavy juice on the underdog Skins. The action at the worlds largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag is fairly balanced with the Seahawks picking up 57% of the wagers so far.
This game would be a no brainer if it were being played in Seattle. The Seahawks were undefeated at home where they enjoy one of the strongest home field advantages in the NFL. Top seeded NFC playoff teams are breathing a sigh of relief that they won't have to go through Seattle to get to the Super Bowl. On the road, the Seahawks were just 3-5.
They run into a red hot Redskins team featuring RG3 that has won 7 straight games after a 3-6 start. Each week for the past 7 weeks, the Redskins have essentially played a do or die playoff game and have come through each time. But overall, they are just 5-3 at home and face a Seattle team here that is equally as hot having won 7 of 8 down the stretch.
The game is also a battle between two rookie QB's in off fantastic rookie seasons with Russell Wilson and RG3 going head to head. Possibly a motivational edge for Wilson here. Imagine coming into the NFL and having the kind of year Wilson has had, only to have RG3 and Andrew Luck at the same time. Wilson may be looking to steal the spotlight here and deservedly so.
Once again we have to decide whether to give more weight to these teams recent performances or the entire season, although in this case, in may not matter. If we look at season to date yards per point numbers, the Seahawks would be the best of all playoff teams as far as ypp differential with a 13.7 on offense and a 20 defensively for a differential of +6.3. The number puts them a full 3 points ahead of every other playoff team with the exception of the Falcons. The Skins were a very average 14.1 and 15.5 for a +1.3 differential.
While both teams can put points on the board, the Seahawks were #1 in the NFL in points against with an average of just 15 ppg compared to the Redskins 24 points per game, good for 22nd in the league. Another category that stands out is yards given up to the pass. The Seahawks were #6 in the NFL at 203 ypg while the Redskins were #30 at 282 ypg and check out the Skins giving up 423 passing yards to Tony Romo and the Cowboys as well as 321 to the Eagles and both of those games were in the final 6 game stretch run. The Skins had 8 games where they gave up 300+ yards through the air while Seattle had just 2.
Ok, so both teams were hot down the stretch. But who performed better? Once again, let's take a look at each teams yards per point numbers over the final 6 games of the season. The Seahawks offensive ypp number was a sizzling 11.3 and their defensive number was 22.9 for a +11.6 differential. The Skins were 13 and 16.4 for a +3.4 differential. Nuff said.
Two hot teams with rookie QB's both hot down the stretch but it was the Seahawks that performed better from start to finish and for that matter, any random number of games in between. They were the more consistent team all year and the numbers we've mentioned above prove they are the better team, whichever time frame we are looking at. Our model agrees and in fact suggests that it may not be as close as people think, predicting a 30-17 Seahawk win.
Roll it all together and the numbers suggest that Seattle wins this game and likely gets the cover. You can lay -3 at even money or -2.5 at -120. We're not as confident as our model is as far as the margin here, so we'll pay the premium and lay -2.5 as a field goal game wouldn't be a surprise. Seahawks -2.5 -120