49ers vs. Seahawks Odds & Picks: A Longshot Spread Bet For Sunday
Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson
49ers vs. Seahawks Odds
One year ago, the 49ers and the Seahawks met in Seattle for a Week 17 contest to determine the winner of the NFC West.
The game came down to its final play, with Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister being stopped short at the 1-yard line, giving the 49ers the division title, the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
What a difference a year makes.
After a nightmare season, the 49ers are already eliminated while the Seahawks have clinched the NFC West and are playing for seeding purposes and a small chance at a first-round bye, should the Packers and Saints both lose.
Nonetheless, oddsmakers opened the Seahawks as 4.5-point favorites with a total of 47.5, and we’ve seen nothing but one-way action on Seattle, pushing this line to a consensus 6.5/7 with a total of 46 (compare real-time odds here).
Let’s see where the betting value lies.
Seattle’s offensive philosophy has changed from letting Russ Cook to adopting a more run-first style of play. With the Seahawks winning three straight and five out of their last six, it’s hard to argue against the change given the results.
Still, their offense is far from optimal when looking at success rate and expected points added per play. The Seahawks had just a 21% success rate on early down runs last week against the Rams and yet still ran the ball on 43% of first and second downs. We’ve seen a similar theme over this win streak and their passing, rushing and total success rates are down throughout these six weeks.
Nonetheless, Russell Wilson was still able to deliver in last week’s 20-9 win over the Rams, completing 20-of-32 passes for 225 yards with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.
Still, it feels as if the Seahawks are winning in spite of their current offensive philosophy — not because of it. While they’ve gotten away with it in games against the Eagles, Jets, Football Team and Rams, it feels like this will likely come back to bite them at some point.
Seattle’s defense ranks 16th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, which has trended upward compared to earlier this season. The Seahawks have been particularly stout against the run, holding opposing teams to to 3.9 yards per carry (sixth) and 96.2 yards per game (fifth) with a 39.4% success rate (12th).
While this unit is vulnerable to opposing passing attacks, their pass rush has trended up recently — they’re now seventh in sacks (43), 14th in pressure rate (22.9%) and come off a game in which they sacked Jared Goff three times and recorded nine quarterback hits.
San Francisco 49ers
Referring to the 49ers’ season as a Super Bowl Hangover doesn’t quite do justice to what has taken place.
They’ve been absolutely decimated by both injuries and COVID-19, listing 33 players on injured reserve and 21 on the COVID-19 list.
This week they’ll be starting third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard, who comes off a game against the Cardinals in which he threw for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he’ll be without the team’s top two wide receivers in Brandon Aiyuk (ankle) and Deebo Samuel (hamstring). The 49ers did welcome the return of tight end George Kittle last week, and he didn’t skip a beat, catching four passes for 96 yards.
Without their top two wide receivers, Beathard will be throwing to Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and River Cracraft on the outside.
The 49ers are facing an uphill battle without their top weapons, but you can never count out Kyle Shanahan to come up with a solid game plan to exploit opponents’ weaknesses. With the Seahawks being one of the worst pass defenses in the league, Beathard will have his opportunities.
Running back Jeff Wilson comes off his best game of the season with 22 carries for 183 yards, but the strength of this Seahawks defense is stopping the run, so the 49ers will need a solid game from Beathard to win this matchup.
In their last matchup against the Seahawks, the 49ers didn’t have Wilson or Raheem Mostert and ran for just 52 yards on 22 carries — a mere 2.4 yards per carry. Fortunately for the 49ers, Beathard hasn’t turned the ball over like Nick Mullens, as he has five touchdowns to zero interceptions.
Ball security will be particularly important given the absences on the defensive side of the ball, as the 49ers will be missing defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, cornerbacks Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams and linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
Still, this is still a solid defense, ranking sixth in defensive efficiency, eighth against the pass and seventh against the run, and they’re coming off of a game in which they held the Cardinals to just 12 points.
Handicapping Week 17 means you have to play amateur psychologist. When it comes to playoff teams you need to understand their motivations, their coach’s tendencies and their overall approach towards rest vs rust.
Pete Carroll has gone on record to say that the Seahawks are “going all out,” but that doesn’t necessarily lend itself towards a win or a cover. Looking back at his tenure with the Seahawks, his teams are just 4-6 against the spread in Week 17, failing to cover the last four games.
The betting markets have seen one-way action on the Seahawks all week, and despite a lengthy injury report from the 49ers, I’m not seeing much value in laying nearly a touchdown on the road with the Seahawks.
The 49ers proved last week that they haven’t given up. They brought back Kittle, and Beathard is more than capable of scoring points against this Seahawks defense.
While I could talk myself into a first-half bet on the Seahawks at -4 with them playing for a chance at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, if they glance at the scoreboard and see the Packers ahead against the Bears at halftime, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them sit some players toward the end of this game.
This really isn’t a game I’d want to bet given the circumstances, but if you feel the need to bet something in this matchup, I would recommend San Francisco +7.
Pick: 49ers +7