NFL Picks: Seahawks Offer Betting Value In Wild Card Game vs. Vikings

Ted Sevransky

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 9:26 PM GMT

The Seattle Seahawks visit the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Playoffs. Seattle is favored by 4.5 points on Heritage's NFL odds board.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2962768, "sportsbooksIds":[169,1096,93,19,92,238], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

NFL Pick: Seahawks -4.5

Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

I made a strong case for a big bet on Minnesota when these two teams met on this very field last month.  I don’t think I was more wrong about an NFL game all year.  The Vikings had spent the week prior to the game talking about how they needed to step up and beat somebody good.  Seattle entered the game as a .500 level team struggling to run the football and to defend against the pass. 

But the Vikings offense couldn’t generate any big gainers on downfield throws due to Teddy Bridgewater’s ineffectiveness.  And Russell Wilson simply picked apart the Vikings secondary.  The Seahawks converted 9-13 third down chances and 1-1 on fourth down.  Minnesota had only nine first downs all day, gaining a truly woeful 2.6 yards per play.  It was a mismatch, plain and simple.

Things have changed for the Vikings since that loss.  Minnesota is 4-0 ATS in their last four games.  Their defense has gotten healthier, although the injury to key defensive tackle Linval Joseph remains a concern.  Adrian Peterson has been in excellent form running the football.  Minnesota has fared well in their two step-up games during that span, losing by only three at Arizona in a tight affair, then beating the Packers at Lambeau Field last Sunday to clinch the division title and get this home game.

But the Vikings still have at least three things working against them.  First and foremost, there’s no comparison between Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater.  Wilson was a legitimate MVP candidate this year, and his play down the stretch was nothing short of putting him into the ‘best QB in football’ discussion.  Wilson is a proven playoff performer and a Super Bowl winner.  He’s elite, even on the road – remember his gutty win at Washington in the playoffs three years ago after the Seahawks had fallen behind 14-0? 

Bridgewater has not shown any signs of improvement in his sophomore season.  He threw four TD passes against the Bears hapless defense, but combined to throw only ten more TD’s in his other 15 games.  In last week’s win against the Packers, Bridgewater missed numerous wide open receivers, unable to connect on anything but dinks and dunks.  A kid from Miami who played his college ball at Louisville is not necessarily a great fit for a January game played outdoors in Minneapolis.  The early forecast has gametime temperatures hovering near zero, with a wind chill approaching -20.  That’s not Bridgewater weather!

Secondly, the Vikings cannot match Seattle’s poise under pressure.  The Seahawks have made extended playoff runs in each of the last three seasons.  Pete Carroll is cool under pressure; his team fully understands what it takes to compete at the highest level at this time of the year.  Minnesota’s last playoff win came in 2009 when Brad Childress was the head coach.  They lost by two touchdowns in their only playoff appearance during the Leslie Frazier era.  This is not a battle tested proven playoff performing squad.  Even head coach Mike Zimmer lacks winning postseason experience.

Lastly, we have to look at the recent history of NFL home underdogs against the NFL odds in the playoffs.  Over a 25, 30 or 40 year sample size, those home dogs look great ATS.  If you stick to 21st century results, home dogs are a negative expectation subset here in January. Laying less than a TD with Seattle is the only way I can look here for my NFL picks, especially with Marshawn Lynch back at practice and potentially getting back on the field on Sunday.