Market WatchThis line opened at -3.5 at most books and even with the possibility that Denver starters could play the whole first half, money continued to come in on the home favorite. Sometimes the books are stuck between a rock and a hard place in the preseason. Some places even moved the line up to -5 and it wouldn't surprised me if it went even higher.
Coaching/MotivationJohn Fox has a long history in this league and there hasn't been any specific trends that jump off the page at us. He's 24-21 straight up, 21-23-1 against the spread, and 22-22-1 over/under. He's 1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS in dress rehearsal games so far with the Broncos.
Pete Carroll's preseason success is well-documented now, with a 18-12 SU and 20-9-1 ATS record. Last year proved that it doesn't matter how much you are getting paid or where you were drafted, he's going to play the best players. This emphasis on camp/preseason competition seems to translate well to games.
QuarterbacksIn Week 1 I played the 49ers at home against the Broncos, partly due to the Denver QB rotation. That part of the equation checked out fine, but the SF offense that didn't show any moxy either. This week will be a little bit different as Fox said the starters will play into the 2nd quarter, or maybe the half, depending on how the game is going. This tempted me to consider a 1st half play on the Broncos, but I think the mismatches in the second half provide us with better value.
Brock Osweiler is mobile enough to escape some breakdowns and he has a good arm. His problem continues to be accuracy. More and more young quarterbacks are expected to be ready for the NFL quickly, but Osweiler simply isn't one of them. Zac Dysert is a 7th round rookie with a decent arm, but the knock on him is his pocket poise. That's not really a weakness you want to have when you are taking snaps behind reserve offensive lineman.
The QB situation for Seattle couldn't be more opposite. We all know what Russell Wilson can do, and behind him is Tavaris Jackson and Brady Quinn. T-Jax was not good in Minnesota and didn't play last year, but he's experienced and in a good situation in Seattle. He looks like the clear front-runner to win the backup job. Brady Quinn is a capable backup and his type of game is perfect for our purposes. He doesn't take a lot of chances. Instead, he gets impatient in the pocket and checks down a lot. He should be able to fair well against Bronco backups.
NoteworthyIt's hard not to like this Seahawks team. They are one of the youngest rosters and finally have some stability after some monstrous turnover in recent years. There is good quality depth all throughout the roster and many of them believe they have a legitimate chance at playing time under Carroll's philosophy.
For Denver, it will be fun to watch their first string offense go to work in a hostile environment against a good defense. Even with the second half advantages, I wouldn't bet against Denver as 4.5 point dogs if Seattle didn't have what it took to counter their starters.
On defense, Von Miller is the name that's in all the headlines this week. He made the trip to Seattle and is expected to play, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was a late scratch or took limited reps. Usually one defender isn't going to make that much of a difference, but his presence drastically alters the makeup of their starting crew.
Bottom LineThere is not a lot of mystery to this pick. Pete Carroll has a stellar preseason record in his career and he maintains a spirited atmosphere whether his team is rebuilding or contending.
The Broncos will put up a good battle in the first half while the starters are in there, and may even lead at halftime, but the quarterback/overall depth really favors the Seahawks in the second half. Give me the home team (+ the 12th man).
NFL Pick: SEA -4.5.