Thursday Night Football
San Francisco at Seattle
Line: 49ers -3.5
One of the adjustments we're making in our handicapping is to give more weight to recent performance, while at the same time not overreacting to just 1 or 2 games. Admittedly, this is an imperfect science.
San Francisco is the NFL’s hottest team at the moment. The 49ers boast the #1-ranked defense and a revamped offense sparked by third-string rookie QB Brock Purdy, who has obliterated all expectations. It’s remarkable the 49ers lost their 1-2 quarterbacks but now actually could be even *better* than they were before those injuries. Add acquisition RB Christian McCaffery to their offense, and now San Francisco looks really balanced and deep. They’ve also won six straight games and have a chance to basically lock up the NFC West with a win versus the only team that can possibly catch them, which is Seattle.
As for the Seahawks, this is circle-the-wagons time, and an all-hands-on-deck game they absolutely must win. After starting out 6-2 as one of the league’s biggest surprises, Seattle has since lost 3 of 4 games and failed to cover in four straight. Their only win was an ugly last-minute victory vs. the woefully-depleted LA Rams, who came all too close to upsetting the Seahawks as 6-point underdogs.
Let’s credit underrated QB Geno Smith, who continues to enjoy an MVP-level season (71 pct. pass completions; 25 TDs, 8 INTs, 106 QB rating), who is keeping Seattle’s faint playoff hopes alive. The trouble is, watching Seattle’s defense is a horror show. They can’t stop anybody. Steamrolled by the Raiders for nearly 600 yards three weeks ago, then nearly beaten by the Rams, next Seattle surrendered 30 points to Carolina last week. Seattle ranks #30th defensively in PPG. The 49ers scored 72 points in their last two games and now face a far easier opponent.
A few things will keep us off of laying points with San Francisco.
-- First, we don’t like the extra half-point (sorry, Spreads.ca). Laying 3.5 is a dealbreaker for us, especially in a divisional matchup.
-- Next, give Purdy his rightful due, but this is his first road start. Seattle can be an intimidating place for young QBs, so that’s another uncertainty.
-- Purdy is also listed as “questionable” in the injury report (bruised ribs). Yes, he’ll play. However, this just adds to question marks about San Francisco going on the road and covering more than a FG as a favorite.
All these factors will keep us off the side and total but will also compel us to make two wagers–both connected to Seattle enjoying some offensive success in a time of desperation.
First, we’ll go OVER on Seattle’s team total in the first half, which is 9.5 points (-115). The Seahawks face the top defense in football, but also move the ball well and are among the best first-half teams at scoring points, averaging 13.9 PPG1H. We say they hit 10+ here, at home.
We’ll also go OVER on Geno Smith’s pass completions at 21.5 (-115), who has proven himself as an accurate passer. Other reasons include Seattle not being a good rushing team, and probably will abandon the run facing the toughest run defense in NFL (#1 against the run, but #12 against the pass). So, with Smith completing 71 percent of his passes this year, look for the Seahawks to pass early and often. Moreover, Seattle throws a lot of short passes, so that bumps up his completion numbers. Even in SFO’s blowout win vs. Tampa Bay last week, the opposing QB Tom Brady completed 37 passes. That’s 37-18-18-30-21-25 completions to opposing QBs in the 49ers’ last 6 games, and this week, Smith is enjoying as good a season as anyone the 49ers have faced other (than Patrick Mahomes). Smith’s completions are 21-28-27-23-26-23 in his last six games. Assuming the Seahawks are trailing in this game (the line suggests that happening), especially late, that further boosts the chances of more completions for the team playing catch up.
The Picks--Final Decision:
Seattle Team Total in First Half OVER 9.5 (-115)
Prop: Geno Smith OVER 21.5 Pass Completions (-115) — Risking $230 to win $200
-- Nolan Dalla
Check back Thursday-Friday-Saturday for more updates. All games will be analyzed up through kickoff.