Sunday Night Football Odds & Picks: Our Guide to Betting Seahawks vs. Cardinals
Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray
- The Seattle Seahawks are on the cusp of franchise history if they can beat the Arizona Cardinals to secure a 6-0 start to the season.
- But are the Cardinals being undervalued as home underdogs after last week's rout of the Cowboys? Maybe not.
- Our NFL betting analyst Raheem Palmer previews the Sunday Night Football matchup and explains why he likes Seattle to cover the spread.
NFL Odds: Seahawks vs. Cardinals
Russell Wilson and the 5-0 Seattle Seahawks head to State Farm Stadium to take on Kyler Murray and the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals, who are fresh off a 38-10 drubbing of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. These teams split their two meetings last season, with the road teams winning both games by double digits.
In this NFC West showdown, oddsmakers are projecting a high-scoring game and the Seahawks as road favorites. A win would give them their first 6-0 start in franchise history, while a win for the Cardinals would move them one step forward toward winning the division.
Can the Seahawks continue rolling right into a historic start, or will the Cardinals prove to be a worthy rival?
The Seahawks have been a solid bet coming off a bye in the Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll era, as they’re are 6-2 straight up and 5-3 against the spread with a 13-point average margin of victory. One of the losses was a 3-point loss on the road to the Dolphins during Wilson’s rookie season.
Diving deeper into the numbers, the Seahawks are actually 4-1 off a bye on the road per our Bet Labs data, a situation they find themselves in this week:
The Seahawks have the No. 1 offense in the league, scoring 33.8 points per game and ranking first in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, second in early-down success rate and first in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns on 88.9% of their trips (16-18) inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Wilson is putting up an MVP-caliber season, leading all quarterbacks in touchdowns (19) and passer rating (129.8) while ranking second in completion percentage (72.8) and third in passing yards per game (300.4).
D.K. Metcalf leads the Seahawks in targets, catching 22 receptions for 492 yards and five touchdowns. Tyler Lockett has also been a huge threat, with 30 receptions for 342 yards and four touchdowns. Opposing defenses haven’t been able to slow down this Seahawks offense and I don’t see it stopping here.
Although Seattle’s offense is the best in the league, the defense is just 26th in defensive DVOA despite facing the 20th-ranked schedule of opposing offenses. In 2020, the NFL is a passing league, and ranking 29th in passing efficiency is a cause for concern. If there is a bright spot for this defense, it’s the ability to stop the run, as they’re ninth in defensive run efficiency, holding teams to 3.9 yards per carry, which is seventh in the league.
Strong safety Jamal Adams is out for the second straight week with a groin injury, which leaves the Seahawks without an effective blitzer and their co-leader in sacks (2) against the speedy Kyler Murray. Nevertheless, the Seahawks welcome the return of rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks, who should be a solid addition given his speed and the ability to chase Murray.
Seattle’s defense certainly has its work cut out for it, but as long as the offense is playing at a historic level, the Seahawks will be tough to beat.
The Cardinals return home after three straight road games against the Panthers, Jets and Cowboys. Historically, this hasn’t been a particularly great spot for teams: Looking at our Bets Lab database, teams who have West Coast home games after flying East for just one game in the Eastern and Central time zones are 124-140-9 (47%) in their first game back home.
The Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray connection had a lot of hype, but thus far the Cardinals have just a 47% passing success rate — 19th among NFL teams.
In Monday night’s win, Murray was a pedestrian 9-of-24 for 188 yards against a Cowboys defense that is giving up 410 yards per game (sixth), ranks 20th in defensive DVOA and contains a a secondary that Pro Football Focus has graded as the NFL’s worst coverage team. Although they averaged 7.5 yards per carry and 7.1 yards per pass on offense, the Cardinals were the beneficiary of four Cowboys turnovers that helped swing the game.
NFL analyst Adam Harstad had an interesting note about how rare it is for quarterbacks to win games in this manner:
Kyler Murray is the first QB to win a game in which he completed fewer than 40% of his passes since Josh Rosen in 2018.
4 of the last 8 quarterbacks to accomplish this feat did so for Arizona. (Murray, Rosen, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley.)
— Adam Harstad (@AdamHarstad) October 20, 2020
Outside of his ability to run, Murray has largely been disappointing this season. He has just a 30 passer rating when under pressure, is 16th in completion percentage (65.9) and 21st in DVOA. Despite his struggles, DeAndre Hopkins (game-time decision) continues to dominate, leading the league in yards (601) and receptions (47) and should present a challenge for this struggling Seahawks secondary if he suits up.
After a disappointing start to the season, Kenyan Drake broke out against the Cowboys with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Given Murray’s struggles this season, a reliable run game would go a long way towards helping the Cardinals offense.
The Cardinals are ninth in defensive DVOA, however they’ve played the 28th-ranked schedule of opposing offenses, which tells us that many of their defensive metrics are skewed. They’ve been fortunate to face the 49ers without their top two receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, along with an injury to George Kittle that kept him out of the second half of their Week 1 matchup.
They also faced two of the worst offenses in the league in Washington and the Jets. And the Cowboys were without Dak Prescott and sporting a makeshift offensive line with injuries to Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Zack Martin, who left last Monday night’s game early with a concussion. Andy Dalton couldn’t capitalize on the loss of Chandler Jones, but a Russell Wilson-led Seahawks offense that’s averaging a league-high 33.8 points a game should have no problem scoring against a defense that should struggle to generate pressure.
This is a good spot to sell high on the Cardinals after their misleading 38-10 victory over the Cowboys.
Overall, this game comes down to whether Murray can match Wilson point-for-point. Based on what we saw this past Monday night, I’m not seeing it. The total of 56 implies we’ll see a high-scoring game, which makes the 3.5 a bargain.
This is a huge step up in class for the Cardinals, so I’ll lay the points with Seattle and I’ll take this up to 4.
PICK: Seahawks -3.5