Saturday, December 22, 2012

NFL Predictions 2012 Week 16: 49ers vs Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks: SEA PK (Pinnacle)

Markets

Before Week 15, Vegas had the 49ers as -2 point favorites in this game.  Despite a statement win in Foxboro, the Seahawks re-opened as -1 point favorites on Sunday.  Not much has changed during the week either.  You can find Seattle at pick em, but some books are putting them in the -1.5 range too.  That is kind of surprising because the 49ers are sure to be popular teaser choices at that number.  Normally when I like a short favorite, I tell people to grab them at anything under -3, but given how tight this could be, I suggest to get the best number possible.  Laying more than -1 could come into the equation here.

Any Analysis Needed?

In the three games that the 49ers lost this year, it was also the only three games where they lost the turnover battle.  It might be silly to pick a side in this matchup when it's all going to come down to turnovers, but that just might be the formula to success.

Both teams are built on incredible defenses, a strong running game, and a dangerous and mobile rookie QB.  Yet, Sherman is expected to play while J Smith is not. I don't think it was an accident that the Patriots began their comeback when Smith left the game with an injury.  That loss cannot be underestimated.  Russell Wilson has already ascended into a quality QB over the last couple of months, but he'll be even more dangerous with Smith out of the lineup.  Aldon Smith might have 19 sacks, but Russell Okung has only given up 1 sack, too. Wilson has climbed from the bottom of QB efficiency rankings to 10th. That is simply remarkable.

At the same time, Kaepernick isn't far behind.  Despite only a handful of starts, he sits around the middle of the pack in the advanced stats metrics.  In spurts, he looks like an unstoppable, dominant threat, but he does continue to make really stupid rookie mistakes too.  With Sherman in the lineup, he's going to need to demonstrate some extra patience and accuracy when targeting Crabtree.  Look for him to rely more on his legs than usual in this one.

Bottom Line

I have lingering nightmares betting against the Seahawks at home this year.  First came the infamous Packers-replacement-ref game and it was followed by an inexplicable loss with the Patriots.  Seattle is a perfect 6-0 ATS this season.  The Cowboys were 0-6 ATS at home leading up to last week.  A bad sign?  Perhaps, but I can't ignore the value on Seattle in this game.  I like how they matchup.  In fact, they don't rank below average in any of the advanced stat categories I look at (17 of them).  I can't say the same thing for the 49ers, who still rank near the bottom in pass protection and inside the red zone on both sides of the ball.

NFL Pick: SEA PK