Not much is known about Mike McCoy because he's a first time head coach, but Pete Carroll has been around the block a few times. He's compiled a 17-12 SU and 19-9-1 ATS record. Impressive. What has he done more recently? How about 7-1 over the last two seasons. His O/U record sits at 16/13.
QuarterbacksThe other primary advantage I see in this matchup is at the QB position. After Russell Wilson, Carroll has two guys who can move the chains in the second half of the game with Brady Quinn and Tavaris Jackson. Both guys can look outright ugly at times, so nothing is a sure thing, but you always have to favor their chances when they get to go against the backups. It also helps that Carroll encourages competition, regardless of the name on the back of the jersey or salary attached to it.
The Chargers have more of a hit and miss situation. I don't expect to see Philip Rivers much, which leaves the majority of the reps to Charlie Whitehurst, and youngsters Brad Sorensen/Nathan Enderle. Whitehurst is your prototypical inconsistent backup. Last NFLX he came in and threw two nice touchdowns in his first game, but followed it up with stinkers the rest of the way.
MotivationNormally, you'd give the edge to Mike McCoy in this situation. There's a lot of pressure on the Chargers to turn things around and new head coaches like to set a new tone and "winning culture" in camp and preseason.
That said, Pete Carroll's M.O. has always been competition. Whether the Seahawks are established as a playoff caliber team or not, Carroll likes his roster to compete for spots because nothing is guaranteed on his watch. This permeates all the way down to the fringe players, so I don't expect Seattle to go through the motions.
What to watch for ...Robert Turbin is nursing a foot injury, so we'll get to see extended action for second round pick Christine Michael, sixth round pick Spencer Ware, and second year player Derrick Coleman. All three have showed promise in camp, so the competition here should be interesting.
The Chargers have already had injury problems at the wide receiver position, so Keenan Allen gets a prime opportunity to show his stuff. Manti Te'o has had an up and down journey en route to the NFL and this will be the first time we get the chance to see him against some pro-level players.
Bottom LineBuying the Seahawks down to -1 virtually make this game a 'pick em' and I like Seattle to walk away with a win. Carroll's track record combined with the advantage at QB make the Seahawks a clear pick to come out on top.
NFL Pick: SEA -1 (-125)