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NFL

NFC Playoff Preview: Who Can You Bet On To Beat The Seahawks?


Pete Carroll Russell Wilson

The NFL playoffs are here. I would like to preview them. I hope you read these predictions, and discuss them with me. I started with the AFC. I showed no balls and picked the Denver Broncos. Now, it’s time for the NFC. Biggest question: Will my balls emerge?

What do the odds say?

Via 5dimes.eu, here are the odds for each team to win the NFC and make it to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York Jersey.

Seattle Seahawks: -120
Carolina Panthers: +460
San Francisco 49ers: +500
Green Bay Packers: +975
New Orleans Saints: +1150
Philadelphia Eagles: +1150

… but what about in terms of percentages?

(Here are the implied percentages, heavily approximated, because I was struggling to do the exact math, even though I used to be good at math. This is what blogging does to your brain. They all are definitely no more than a few percentage points off, at most.)

Seattle Seahawks: 50%
Carolina Panthers: 15%
San Francisco 49ers: 14%
Green Bay Packers: 7.5%
New Orleans Saints: 6.5%
Philadelphia Eagles: 6.5%

Seattle is ranked as the best team in the NFC, and they have home-field advantage. The biggest home-field advantage in the NFL, possibly/probably. Under Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are 15-1 at home (their only loss coming in Week 16 vs. Arizona), hence their massive edge here.

But are the odds accurate?

As I wrote in my AFC preview:

People like to say dumb things like “VEGAS IS UNDEFEATED” when games occasionally end precisely on point spreads, but that’s an incredibly misguided statement. For one, “Vegas” isn’t the only place setting odds. Respected offshore books like Pinnacle are the market leaders. Not Vegas. And oddsmakers aren’t trying to guess scores, they’re trying to make money. The betting market is… a market. It moves based on money, perception, varying interests… lots of things. The prices reflect what the market is saying. It’s not perfect.

While I am no expert, I am not clueless. I made money (HYPOTHETICALLY, IF I WOULD DO SUCH A HORRIBLE THING) betting on football this season. It happened. And because the few long-term winning NFL bettors would never disclose their fancy mathematical models publicly, checking out a random dude’s preview is about the best you can do. While I’m no expert; I’m confident I’m more of an expert than the uninformed people that call themselves experts.

I think the Seahawks are overrated at home. Incredibly good? Yes. Very, very difficult to beat? Yes. Overrated? Yes.

First, let’s look at who they’ve beaten to go 15-1.

Last year: They beat the Packers, Patriots and 49ers. That’s pretty damn good. But they beat the Pats by one and the Pack by two. Both games could’ve gone either way. But obviously, when you consider that this year’s team is significantly better, you come away impressed.

This year: The only good teams they’ve beaten at home were the 49ers and Saints. Of course, these are two of the best teams in the league, so this is very impressive. But the rest of the slate is not impressive, at all.

They beat the 49ers 29-3. It was a blowout. However, this was solely due to them winning the turnover battle 5-1, which is certainly not something that the Seahawks can count on to repeat, even in the tough environment. Both teams averaged 4.1 yards per play and struggled on offense. The 49ers actually ran the ball well, gaining 100 yards on 20 carries.

They annihilated the Saints all around. It was very impressive. However, it looks slightly less impressive when you realize that the Road Saints barely beat the Bucs and Falcons, and lost the the Jets and Rams. Beating the Road Saints isn’t beating the Saints.

Again, the Seahawks are really fucking good at home. But when you’re talking odds, you’re talking value, and given the fact that everyone goes nuts about the Seahawks at home should tell you all you need to know. They are likely overvalued, right now. Which is probably why, after going 8-0 against the spread at home last year, they went 5-3 ATS this year. (Though obviously betting on them and winning 5 of 8 times would obviously net you money, so my opinion isn’t necessarily fact.)

So… I should bet against the Seahawks?

This is more of a “don’t bet on the Seahawks, than a bet against the Seahawks. But, let’s see if anyone else has value.

Who can beat the Seahawks?

FACT: The Seahawks will make the Super Bowl, unless someone beats them.

In the second round, they will host the: New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers or Green Bay Packers. In the NFC Championship, they could host either the: 49ers, Packers, Philadelphia Eagles or Carolina Panthers.

GET TO IT ALREADY.

Oops. Sorry. How is your day going?

JUST DO IT

The Seahawks’ only home loss, to the Cardinals, had some weird stats. They lost 17-10, and these things happened:

- Arizona killed in time of possession, 37:24 to 22:36.
- In that same vein, they ran the ball 43 times… but averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.
- Arizona was 6-for-19 on third downs. Seattle was just 2-for-13.
- Arizona got 6 first downs… just from penalties!
- The Cardinals went 0-for-3 in the red zone.
- The Cardinals turned the ball over 4 times (the Seahawks did it twice).

So… the Cardinals sorta showed a blueprint to beating the Seahawks, but it was a weird game. Basically, they played really good defense, kept things close, and got a little lucky. They made a big play late. That’s about it. Third-down defense was huge.

So… who’s the best matchup?

Teams run the ball relatively often against the Seahawks. They’re good against the run…, but it’s their relative weakness. Opponents run the ball on 42.53% of plays vs. the Seahawks, which is 17th in the NFL… but since the Seahawks are really good and often playing with a lead, that’s a pretty high number. Also, they’re 8th in rush-defense DVOA as opposed to 1st in pass-defense DVOA.

I don’t really think anyone is a good matchup. The Panthers are third in defensive DVOA, right behind the Cardinals, so I’d think they could win in similar fashion, especially since they’re better on offense. They can also attack Seattle’s relative weakness, because they’re an excellent running team.

I think the Panthers are the best matchup, but they’ve been pretty underwhelming on the road, besides that huge win in San Francisco.

I’d have to think the 49ers have the next-best shot, but they still have to get through the Packers.

The Packers seem like a bad matchup, because there’s no way that defense can stop Seattle’s offense. If you can’t slow down Seattle in Seattle, you’re gonna have a tough time keeping up, even if you have Aaron Rodgers. They will slow down any and every offense.

I don’t like the Eagles’ chances on defense, so I don’t like their chances. But if anyone can get the Seahawks into a shootout and get lucky, it’s a team that averages 6.3 yards per play (T-1st in NFL), and 5.1 yards per rush, and is first in run-offense DVOA.

The Saints seem like the worst matchup, as evidenced by their beat-down earlier in the year.

How big of favorites will the Seahawks be for each matchup?

This is tough to call, but I’ll give it my best guess.

49ers vs. Seahawks -3.5
Panthers vs. Seahawks -5
Packers vs. Seahawks -6.5
Saints vs. Seahawks -7.5
Eagles vs. Seahawks -7.5

This is why it’s really hard to value futures bets on the Seahawks to win the NFC, because the odds will change significantly based on who wins the expected toss-up game between the Packers and Eagles. Screw you, NFL, for giving an 8-7-1 team home field.

WHO SHOULD I BET ON, DAMNIT

I don’t love any bets. I reaaaaaallly don’t see the Packers or Saints going into Seattle and winning. I’ve been wrong plenty of times before, but I’m staying far away from all three of them.

Which leaves: Carolina Panthers +460
San Francisco 49ers: +500
Philadelphia Eagles: +1150

The Panthers will play the Eagles, Packers or 49ers next round. They’ll be favored over all of them. It really depends on who they play to see if these odds are good, but they’re not horrible. Because the Panthers are playing one fewer game than the 49ers, and get one at home… the value on them is significantly better than the value on the 49ers.

Still, I don’t know if I love them.

The 49ers are currently around -150 to beat the Packers. If they win, they would either play the Panthers, where I’m guessing they’ll be something like -110 to win (I dunno), or the Seahawks, where they’ll be something like +180.

If I’m right, or close to right, then you’ll get significantly better odds by betting on the 49ers this round, then rolling over your winnings and betting them again next round, and so on. Don’t take +500.

The Eagles are around -135 to win, right now. If they win, they will definitely play the Panthers… where they’ll maybe be something like +150? (I really don’t know.) Then, they’d be something like +300 at Seattle.

Basically, if the 49ers or Eagles end up needing to get through the Seahawks, which is the likeliest scenario, you’ll get better odds by rolling over moneyline bets. So, if you like either team, do that. I think there might be value on both the 49ers and Eagles, but I’m a bit worried about their first-round matchups, so I might stay away. I’ll be analyzing the first round in another article, later.

If you want to take anything now, take the Panthers. But like I said, I don’t think I endorse that.

I actually think I like the Eagles, based on matchups. But, stay tuned.

PREDICTIONS

Packers over 49ers.
Eagles over Saints.
Eagles over Panthers.
Seahawks over Packers.
Eagles over Seahawks.

(I know I’m reaching a little bit… especially with that last one. But, this is the NFL playoffs. Shit happens, always.)

Give your own predictions and/or bets below, or hit me up on Twitter. I would love to hear from you, friend.


  • Ted Tidwell

    49ers over Packers
    Eagles over Saints
    Seahawks over 49ers
    Eagles over Panthers
    Eagles over Seahawks

    …Broncos over Eagles

    …just a little different. I think Lesean McCoy will take the pressure off Foles, and be the key to the Seahawks losing at home. Eagles have a really good path to the NFC championship game as the 3 seed. They are a great “longshot” bet.

  • Todd Naz

    Eagles over the Seahawks in Seattle? Or are you saying the Eagles will cover the point spread and not win? Nobody is beating the Seahawks at home in the playoffs.

  • Ted Tidwell

    I think if anyone will beat them it will be the Eagles. They have a hot QB and a phenomenal running back.

  • mitch

    Lol eagles over panthers and Seahawks lol eagles not even in same league boy please. Its saints over eagles hawks over saints 9ers over GB 9ers over panthers hawks over 9ers

  • Paul

    You’ve lost all credibility. Please remove yourself from the internet. Thank you.

  • Lola

    You lose

  • Seahawk Dugan

    Eagles over Seahawks…oooppsss lol

  • HAWKS FANATIC

    Well. Based on the Eagles losing today after you picked them to go all the way, guess I’m glad I had already decided this article was a bunch of crap. GO HAWKS!

  • Anonymous

    Guess that settles it…Seahawks to the SB.

  • Anonymous

    The first issue with this article is you are relying on stats more than having watched the games you “analyze.” The SEA/AZ game was weird-mostly because the Seahawks’ offense wasn’t Seattle’s offense. They called it like it was a preseason game. There was no motivation or creativity. Add to that the return of Percy Harvin and-well-for someone that picked the Eagles you should get the picture.

  • Dirty mike

    What ??? What a damn fool.

  • Khris Wilson

    To bad the eagles lost

  • Anonymous

    Considering the Saints just beat the Eagles in far colder temperatures (Absolutely their biggest crutch historically) I’m really hoping for a Saints victory here in Seattle. Add to that suspensions over Adderall use, collective disarray in the team and over-inflated egos right now, the Seahawks could be stepping on a landmine when The Saints come marching in. ;)

  • Tom

    49ers over Packers
    Saints over Eagles
    Panthers over 49ers
    Seahawks over Saints
    Panthers over Seahawks

    The Panthers defense will bring their defense and I think Cam won’t waste his first Playoff Experience especially at home. I also think that the Seahawks will choke if they don’t have Percy Harvin.

  • greg jones

    Adderall suspensions? you must be smoking crack? their hasn’t been a Adderall suspension this year its smoking pot suspension and only browner is out . and they don’t even know he’s gone .and if you followed those guys you would know they are cocky and confident ,but not even close to being big ego over the top ,

  • sky

    wow. you called that so far!

  • Anonymous

    clearly you’re awesome at this

  • Ted Tidwell

    I guess that’s why they play the games, last time I checked two games are left, you sound like 2012-2013 Bronco fan.

  • Anonymous

    haha, nice picks, man!

  • Anonymous

    darn!!

  • Anonymous

    man, i can’t believe i got some predictions i wasn’t confident in wrong. i suppose a season of profitability is out the window!

  • Anonymous

    :(

  • Anonymous

    right, a game they needed to win was treated like a preseason game…

  • Anonymous

    Ha

  • Anonymous

    i made money betting on nfl this year, it’s a tough thing to do, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    nice start!

  • Anonymous

    ha, i still think they were a good longshot bet, but, couldn’t pull off the first step. oh well. the great thing about betting is it doesn’t matter that my unconfident predictions were wrong… i can still make some money, ha

  • Ted Tidwell

    Yeah, I don’t think it was a bad pick. You look at the Saints road playoff record, and factor in the cold weather, and that was the right bet.

  • Ted Tidwell

    Pride before the fall….I hope.

  • Hawk

    They didn’t need to win that game, they didnt really take it seriusly, but yes hawks got little too cocky, they did show little more of their offense against the rams. Now that they are in the play offs, Wilson will play his run game.

  • Anonymous

    Good grief-find a sense of humor. The guy said the Eagles were the team that could beat Seattle and Philly lost. It was a freaking joke! smh

  • Anonymous

    Idiocy over thinking.

  • NINER NATION FAN

    Seattle did not beat San Francisco this year in regular season. The niners beat them in candlestick park in regular season & the seahawks beat the niners at home in PRE-SEASON. The seahawks are highly overrated and their record is NOT 15-1 its 13-3 as of now until January 11th when they play (and subsequently will beat….again) the sucky Saints from the welfare capitol of the world because the only team more overrated than Seattle is New Orleans. a 40 year franchise that won a single super bowl doesn’t make you a winner it makes you a loser except for 2.5% of the time

  • Hawks Fan

    Are you RETARTED? The Seahawks beat the 49ers the second REGULAR SEASON game! They won 29-3. Check it out. http://www.seahawks.com/schedule/season-schedule.html
    You really don’t know much about football because if you did you would know that we play them twice, once at home and one away. Seattle won at home by 26pts. and lost at San Francisco by 2pts.

  • Anonymous

    Your response only clarifies that you did not see the game and are speaking/writing from a position of ignorance. It is also clear that Seattle didn’t “need” to win that game. Perhaps they should have, and it would have meant Week 17 was a meaningless game, but the game/loss didn’t matter.

  • Anonymous

    What kind of a “Niner Nation” fan doesn’t realize that division rivals play each other twice per year in the regular season and never meet in preseason? Seriously…or perhaps you are still living in the 90′s and think the Seahawks are still in the AFC. Either way, consult a schedule.

  • Steve Treadway

    Worst predictions ever

  • Cristian Jimenez

    49ers over Packers
    Saints over Eagles
    Seahawks over Saints
    49ers over Panthers
    49ers over Seahawks.

  • Eric

    Seahwaks will take out the 49ers. My guess is 20-10.

  • Eric Anderson

    Seahawks definitely win! Probably 20-10


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