Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 27 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
It’s no secret that they love their Sweet Leaf in Seattle. But the laid-back lifestyle might cost the Seattle Seahawks (10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS) their shot at Super Bowl redemption. Following up on our special update from earlier this week, two members of the Seahawks secondary are on the hook for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The club announced on Tuesday that CB Walter Thurmond has been suspended four games; CB Brandon Browner is reportedly facing a one-year ban, which he is appealing.
This is not good news for Seahawk supporters. And we’re already seeing the impact on the Week 13 NFL betting odds for Seattle’s Monday Night Football matchup with the New Orleans Saints (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS). The Seahawks have slipped from –6 at the open to as low as –4.5 as we go to press. Lines are available anywhere between those two numbers; expect more stability in the marketplace by the time you read this.
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The whole point behind contrarian betting is to zig when the NFL betting public zags, counting on the market to make typical human mistakes, like overreacting to news. But this concept comes with a caveat: We are all human, and eminently capable of overreacting to other people’s overreactions. Football betting has layers, ogres have layers.
On the first layer, we have the suspensions themselves. This is where we deal with the facts. Browner leads Seattle with 10 passes defended; Thurmond is fourth with six PDs. Each player has an interception, with Thurmond taking his to the house. Thurmond also has a fumble recovery and a sack. Their replacements for now are Perrish Cox, who was waived earlier this month by the San Francisco 49ers after barely touching the field, and Deshawn Shead, who was promoted from Seattle’s practice squad. Shead’s next NFL game will be his first.
There are lots of other facts to consider for Monday night’s matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), but for now, let’s move to the second layer, where it’s us against the NFL betting public to see who does a better job of sizing up the impact of these suspensions. And instead of pretending I was born knowing everything about football, I’ll rely on Scouts Inc., who had Browner ranked No. 46 out of roughly 250 players at his position, and Thurmond No. 83. Cox was No. 121. Shead was among 60 or so unranked cornerbacks.
Here’s the trick: Cox and Shead aren’t being put into the starting lineup. They’re filling out the back end of the depth chart. Browner and Thurmond both played right corner; on Monday, that spot will likely be filled by Byron Maxwell, with Jeremy Lane also in the mix. Maxwell (No. 139) and Lane (unranked) are also low on the Scouts. Inc rankings, but they’re both solid young players who have done very good work on Seattle’s top-ranked special teams – especially Lane.
The Safety Dance
Consider that Seattle also has Richard Sherman (No. 23; eight PDs, four INTs and a TD) playing left corner, and a pair of excellent safeties in Earl Thomas (No. 5) and Kam Chancellor (No. 11), and these suspensions don’t seem like that big of a deal – especially when Browner has been out since Week 10 with a groin injury. Silly football betting public.
Ah, but here we are at the third layer. Driving an NFL point spread from –6 to –4.5 isn’t really that big of a reaction. It’s only worth about 15 cents, according to the updated fair prices at Wizard of Odds. That makes Monday’s line move less important than if it had moved from –3 to –2.5 (21.4 cents). I’m going to stick with Seattle as my pick, but I’m not going to bust out the YES~! chant because of the lower price. A tastefully understated Fargo Strut will do.NFL Pick: Take the Seahawks –4.5 (–105) at William Hill