By Jason Green
The Lions have the Giants to thank, as they made the post-season because they beat the Redskins. Detroit has lost 3 in a row and they do not head into the playoffs with a full head of steam. They have Matthew Stafford, but not much of a run Game and while their D was much improved this season that unit was not solid in the last couple of Games. Detroit faces Seattle and that is not good since the Seahawks were 7-1 at home this season.
The Seahawks did not end the season great losing 2 of their last 4 Games and while they won their season finale it was only a 2-point win over a woeful San Francisco 49ers team. Seattle is led by their defense, which ranks 3rd in the league in opponents’ ppg, but in their last 2 Games they GAve up 31 and 23 points respectively. They hosted the Lions last season where they won a defensive affair taking down the Lions 13-10.
The home team has covered the spread in 4 of their last 5 Games between these teams.
In their last Game the Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers 31-24 where they did not cover at home as a 3.5-point underdog.
The Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-23 in their last Game where they did not cover as a 11.5-point road favorite.
In their loss to the Packers in their last Game the Lions did have 408 yards of total offense, but they GAve up 448 yards. Matthew Stafford put up big numbers passing for 347 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT and he has a solid WR corps. He may have to do it all in this Game on the offensive side of the ball and while RB Zach Zenner went for 69 yards in the loss to Green Bay he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry.
Seattle ranks 8th in the NFL in pass defense and 7th in run defense and obviously defending the pass will be the key for the D in this NFC Wild Card match up.
Russell Wilson passed for 258 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT in the season finale loss to the 49ers, but the Seahawks only rushed for 87 yards in the San Fran Game and their run D ranks dead last in the NFL. Can Wilson get some help from the RB duo of Alex Collins and Thomas Rawls? Big question. Wilson and company will be up against a Detroit D that ranks 19th against the pass and 18th against the run.
Detroit is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road Games, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Games overall, and in their last10 Games the posted total has gone Under 8 times.
Seattle is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home Games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Games following a ATS loss, and in their last 7 Games at home the posted total has gone Over 5 times.
Our Pick – Let’s start with Our model. Our model has the Seahawks winning but not covering when we use data from the entire season as well as the 2nd half of the season. However, when using data from only the last 4 Games, the model predicts an upset with the Lions winning by 1. In any case, the model has the Lions getting the money here.
When looking at full season yards per point numbers, neither team impresses, though the Seahawks defesive number is a very respectable 17.5. Where the Seahawk edge is amplified, is when we use only home stats for Seattle and road stats for the Lions to compute the yards per point numbers.
On the road, Detroits offensive ypp number is a very poor 16.4 while their defensive number is 14.6. The differential is -1.8. The Seahawks home numbers are 13.3 and 17.5 for a differential of +4.2. Using those numbers to make a line, Seattle would be -6 on a neautral field. Now you have to decide what the home field advantage is in this spot. Standard home field in an NFL Game has fluctuated between 2 and 3 points over the years. Let’s call it 2.5. That would bring the line to Seattle -8.5.
But this is Seattle at home and this is the playoffs. This is also the Lions on the road, a team that hasn’t won a playoff Game since 1991. We can safely make that home fiald edge 3.5 to 4 points in this spot. That brings the line, using yards per point, to as high as Seattle -10.
So have we confused you yet? We’ve given you a couple of examples of how handicappers might go about coming up with a number on this Game. Both Our model, and generic yards per point numbers suggest the Lions are the side. Only when we dig deeper into the home field scenario do we come up with a way for Seattle to get the money.
Ultimately, the human element has to come into play in making this selection as the numbers coNFLict. This human (me), feels as though neither team has been hot down the streetch and this Seattle team is in no way shape or form as good as some of the Seattle teams responsible for their past playoff successes at home. In otherwords, they might be vulnerable here. Going back just a year, we saw a hard fought low scoring narrow Seattle win.
This time around, there should be a few more points scored, but it looks to us as though there could be room for a Detroit cover. An outright Detroit win and an end to Seattle playoff dominaNCe at home? Wouldn’t be a shocker as this is no “great” team. Lions +8