A pair of overhyped teams were exposed yet again this past weekend in the Seahawks and the Packers. Why are these teams still being instilled as chalk and can they be trusted with our NFL picks?
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The mainstream media does a truly miserable job of separating contenders from pretenders. They ‘hyped’ teams continue to get hype and the superstars continue to get love as long as things don’t completely collapse. What happened last year is widely expected to happen again this year. Teams that morph from contenders into pretenders continue to get contender hype (and TV coverage), despite their weakened nature.
Two supposedly elite teams were exposed AGAIN this past weekend, but nobody seems to be paying attention. Both the media and the betting marketplace remain in love with the Seahawks and Packers. The two teams that played an epic NFC Championship Game last January with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line both went down to defeat as home favorites on Sunday. And there’s reason to think that both Seattle and Green Bay are likely to continue to struggle (at least ATS) moving forward.
The Seahawks have four SU wins this year, and only two pointspread covers in their first nine games. They beat the hapless Bears with even more hapless Jimmy Clausen at QB for Chicago. They needed an incorrect referee decision to sneak past the lowly Lions, lucky to escape with a non-spread covering win against Detroit. They beat equally inept San Francisco on a short week, facing an inexperienced coaching staff in Colin Kaepernick’s last home game as the starter.
It’s surely worth noting that Chicago (with Clausen), Detroit and San Fran all rank among the five worst teams in the NFL according to my power ratings. Their other win came by a single point at Dallas with Matt Cassel at quarterback, another non-spread covering victory.
What’s wrong with Seattle? Many things! The two key factors for me are an offensive line that is extremely suspect and a defense that is vastly overrated when we adjust for their opponents’ capabilities. Russell Wilson has been sacked more than any QB in the league this year. Marshawn Lynch is averaging only 3.6 yards per carry, more than a full yard per carry less than last year. Seattle’s offensive line woes are very real, and they’re not likely to go away even after their bye week.
And Seattle’s defense isn’t nearly as good as their recent editions. We’ve seen teams run on Seattle, like the Bengals did in their come-from-17 points-behind win over the Seahawks. We’ve seen teams pass on Seattle, like both Arizona and Carolina did to them when they won SU on the Seahawks home field. Their overall numbers are buoyed by the games against Detroit, Chicago and San Fran, but the ‘eye test’ has shown this defense failing repeatedly against decent offenses; particularly during crunch time.
Green Bay has a better pointspread mark than the Seahawks, thanks to a 5-0 SU and ATS start to the season. But more than half of those spread covers were completely fraudulent. Remember back in Week 1, when the Bears were going in for the potential game tying score but Jay Cutler threw an end zone pick? The Packers got the money, but they didn’t deserve it.
How about Week 4 at San Francisco, when the Packers were as flat as a pancake? Green Bay scored only 17 points, but the Niners ineptitude was a difference maker ATS. How about Week 5 against St Louis? The Packers couldn’t run and spent most of the afternoon struggling to move the football through the air. But the Rams converted only one of their four red zone opportunities, missed a pair of field goals, and threw a pick six as part of a four interception afternoon. Green Bay got the money, but they didn’t deserve it.
The Packers were outgained by nearly 200 yards on their home field by San Diego. Green Bay needed a fourth down goal line stop to escape with a non-spread covering win at home against a last place team.
There are two points to be made here. First, the Packers aren’t as good as their SU or ATS record would indicate.
Second, this team remains an overvalued commodity after notching all of those victories. Green Bay’s only standout win came back in Week 2 in the mother-of-all revenge spots against the Seahawks. It’s surely worth noting that all six of Green Bay’s wins have come against an opponent with a losing record – they haven’t beaten a winning team all year.
Seattle is double digit home chalk again this week on the NFL odds board, while the Packers are priced near pick ‘em as they travel to division leading Minnesota. I’m in no rush to back either of these two supposed contenders in their respective matchups.