Review the NFL betting markets, as we are through to the penultimate round of the playoffs, the Championship Round. Four teams vying for two spots in the Super Bowl XLIX.
Packers vs. Seahawks
Current Line: -7.5
Opening Line: -7.0
When these two teams collided to open the season, they were gently nestled on a 4.5-point line, with the Seahawks to the good as home favourites. The result of that clash we all know, a complete and utter blowout by the Seahawks 36-16, which saw them cover handily as the home chalk.
A lot of that result was down to the strange game plan the Packers adopted for the game, namely avoiding Richard Sherman's side of the field. Clearly, that strategy didn't work and it's most unlikely that we'll see a similar game plan in this rematch. If anything, NFL bettors should expect a completely different look to this game, which begs the question: which side of the coin is the sharp NFL pick then.
The infamous 'Fail Mary' of 2012 is an enticing backdrop to this clash, a game the Seahawks won 14-12 after a controversial ruling went their way. Indeed, that defeat coupled with the season's opener mark a two-game losing streak by the Packers to the Seahawks. The last time the Packers beat the Seahawks was in 2009, a 48-10 win at Lambeau, and the last time they beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field was in 2008, a 27-17 win.
NFL Betting Analysis
As soon as the Divisional Round was in the books, the Packers-Seahawks matchup determined for the next round of the playoffs, bookies rolled out a 7-point spread on the NFC showdown. Early money flooded the Seahawks as the touchdown faves in this highly anticipated rematch at some sportsbooks, prompting a slight increase in the NFL odds to 7.5-points, where it's stayed put so far across most sports betting platforms. Since that move, bookies report decent money coming in for the Packers; it's hard to overlook the league's top offense getting seven and the hook. That said, bookies expect a lot more activity on the weekend as we get closer to kick off, which could see some more juggling of the NFL betting lines. Sharp bettors may fancy the wait.
What's being overlooked in this game is the difference in each team since the start of the season. Percy Harvin was key to Seattle's victory, catching seven passes for 59 yards and running the ball for 41 yards on 4 carries as he ripped apart the Packers' defense. We all know where Harvin is going to be this weekend, on a couch somewhere watching the game on the telly.
As far as the Packers' defense goes, they've improved since the opening weeks of the season. Aaron Rodgers had one of his worst accounts of the season in that game with an 81.5 rating. The way he started the season in that game an MVP nod was a far cry away. Tale told, the r-e-l-a-x-e-d Rodgers perked up in ensuing weeks and finished the season with a 112.2 rating. Most importantly, is the way the Packers dealt with the Detroit Lions in week 17 NFL betting, the league's second best defense (top rushing defense). No running back had managed to clock more the 100 yards against them until Eddie Lacy ran for a 100 yards of the team's 152 yards in total.
NFL Betting Verdict
It's obvious the Packers are a different team than the one Seattle saw in week 1. If the Packers' top offense can continue on its verve and swagger and the defense rises to the challenge Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch pose, it's anybody's game. Closer than the NFL odds would suggest, which tips the balance in favour of the Packers as the sharp NFL pick in our opinion at 7.5-points. It remains to be seen whether the Packers can go one better and actually pull off the upset, not just keep this game close.
Free NFL Picks: Packers 7 at BetOnline