We don’t often see road teams laying almost a touchdown on Thursday Night Football, but that appears to be the case in Week 10 when the Seattle Seahawks battle it out against the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks are favored by a touchdown without an extra point at DSI Sportsbook, though other sportsbooks have gone down to 5.5. The total is 42 in what is expected to be a bit of a lower-scoring battle between NFC West rivals.
Early indications are that we might have a bit of a sharp vs. public split in this one. It’s fair to see why public bettors wouldn’t want to back the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals, but this is a big number in this spot. The Seahawks are 5-3 straight up, but only 3-5 against the spread on the year. The Cardinals are 4-4 straight up, but have been a worse bet at 2-6 ATS. Seattle is 5-3 to the under and Arizona is 6-2 to the under. We have seen the total drop down from 42.5 to 42 at a couple of shops thus far.
In general, a team off of a misleading final score is a team worth backing. The Seahawks were the better team in Week 9 against the Redskins. Seattle ran up 437 yards to Washington’s 244, but Kirk Cousins’s 70-yard touchdown drive gave Washington the win. In other words, Washington had 174 yards heading into the final possession of the game. The Seahawks look to be a bit of a snakebitten team. Injuries haven’t helped, particularly on the offensive line, but Russell Wilson is having quite a season. The Seahawks are tied for eighth in yards per play with 5.6. Only six teams have turned it over less often than Seattle. Wilson has completed 62 percent of his passes with a 17/6 TD/INT ratio while having to scramble to keep a lot of plays alive. He has some really good pass catchers in Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, and Jimmy Graham, though Graham only has 9.9 yards per reception and hasn’t been what the Seahawks fully envisioned. The running game has been bad, as Wilson leads the team in yards and yards per carry this late into the season. He has one of the team’s two rushing touchdowns. JD McKissic has the other one. But, Wilson is the best player on the field and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Seattle has him.
The Legion of Boom defense for the Seahawks is clearly not what it once was. Injuries and attrition have taken a toll over the last two years. Earl Thomas missed last week’s game and would obviously be very questionable on a short week. Kam Chancellor was also questionable last week, so he isn’t 100 percent. The Seahawks are right in the middle of the pack with 5.1 yards per play allowed and have 14 takeaways, but something still feels off about this defense. The Seahawks still rate in the top 10 in adjusted net yards per pass attempt, but they are in the bottom of the league in yards per carry against. It just feels like there are too many holes on both sides of the ball to plug simultaneously. As a result, one side of the ball gets it done, the other doesn’t, and the game becomes a coin flip. Judging by the line, this game isn’t a coin flip, but neither was last week’s when the Seahawks were a nine-point favorite and that’s what the game devolved into.
The Drew Stanton Experience coming out of the bye week was not really much worse than the Carson Palmer Experience any week. But, it was very clear what the plan was for Bruce Arians and company. Stanton was 15-of-30 for 201 yards, with two touchdowns and a pick, but Adrian Peterson ran the ball 37 times for 159 yards. It seems interesting to give Peterson such a heavy workload with a short week and not much depth at the running back position, but the Cardinals had to have that game against the 49ers and can worry about it now. Peterson had 37 carries last year in three games. That was a career high in carries for the 32-year-old, so it seems like Arizona’s biggest hope on offense is going to have to recover quickly from what was an extremely heavy workload. The last time Peterson had 30 carries in a game was 2013. Stanton force-fed the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, who led the team with nine targets. It seems like the Cardinals are going to be easy for the Seahawks to defend, so long as they can stop the run, which they haven’t done well this season. But, with Peterson off a career-high in carries, the task may be easier.
The Cardinals defense is pretty average across the board. The group ranks 15th in yards per play allowed, but has only forced nine turnovers, including only one fumble recovery. Throwing on this talented secondary with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu continues to be a struggle and so is running the football. The Cardinals are 4-4 and still within striking distance of the playoffs because of this defense. That is part of the allure in taking the Cardinals given this spread and total, since it would seem that Arizona can keep this game low-scoring. On the other hand, against good passing offenses with the Eagles, Buccaneers, and Rams, the Cardinals allowed 419, 414, and 425 yards. The only real impressive defensive performance for Arizona came back in Week 3 on Monday Night Football against Dallas when the Cowboys only had 273 yards and less than 100 yards rushing. Seattle, for all of its warts, still has a potent passing offense with Wilson and his mobility.
Free NFL Pick: Arizona Cardinals +6
The college football games are better betting options for those looking for something to wager on this Thursday. This will set up as a pros vs. joes type of split, with the line value on the Arizona side, but the better players and the vastly superior quarterback on the Seattle side. The short week with Seattle’s myriad of problems, including 16 penalties and a lack of red zone efficiency in the Redskins game, seems to come at a bad time.