Smart NFL Pick for Low Total: Seahawks vs. Cardinals

Jason Lake

Saturday, December 20, 2014 12:57 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 12:57 PM UTC

You shouldn’t bet the UNDER too often when the total dips below 37 points on the NFL odds board. But that’s the plan for Sunday night’s matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals.

Jason’s record after Week 15: 36-50-1 ATS, 18-26-1 Totals
Do you like football? Do you like nachos? Good, because the nachos might be the best part of Sunday night’s game (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Make sure the cold ones are nice and cold, too. This matchup might be even more of a grind than it was in Week 12, when Seattle won 19-3 (UNDER 42) at home.

Suffice to say, if you were able to snag Sunday night’s total very early on at 40 points, you got yourself a pretty sweet bargain. That was a limited opening; most books published their first NFL odds with the total at 38 points, and it didn’t take long for early bettors to squash that bad boy all the way down to 36. We’ve seen some clawback just as we go to press, with a 37 popping up here and there on the Week 16 NFL odds board. Thank goodness.


Don’t Push Me
Spoiler alert: We’re recommending the UNDER for your NFL picks this week, even with the tiny total. Our theoretical tipping point for considering an auto-bet on the OVER is exactly 37 points, which is one of the more common combined final scores in the NFL. We hope you were at least able to get in at 38 earlier this week; if not, don’t be too surprised if Sunday night ends in a push – say, Seattle 20, Arizona 17.

But that assumes either of these teams is capable of finding the end zone in Glendale. You already know that these are two of the best defensive teams in the league. You know that the Cardinals (UNDER 9-4-1) are starting Ryan Lindley at quarterback, which is very much like bringing a knife to a gunfight. And as it turns out, Seattle QB Russell Wilson doesn’t have much of a gun, either.


Cool Runnings
Now let’s talk about the respective running games for both teams. When we’re betting the UNDER, we prefer teams who run the ball a lot, with power. That’s the Seahawks in a nutshell. They have the most efficient running in the league according to the DVOA charts at Football Outsiders. Some of that is on Wilson himself (7.1 yards per carry), who’s always a threat to burn opponents for a big gain. But mostly, it’s Marshawn Lynch (4.4 yards per carry) chewing up the turf – and the clock.

How powerful is Beast Mode? The Seahawks (UNDER 7-7) are No. 3 in the league in converting third and fourth downs with two yards or less to go. They’re also No. 5 at not getting stuffed behind the line of scrimmage; when Lynch gets those massive legs pumping, he’s about as easy to stop as a rhino.


Fells Bells
As for the Cardinals, they’re just No. 31 in rushing efficiency with lousy power numbers to match. But things are on the upswing now that the injured Andre Ellington (3.3 yards per carry) has been taken out of the picture and replaced by Kerwynn Williams (5.1 yards) and Stepfan Taylor (3.6 yards). Switching up the offensive line and getting TE Darren Fells on the field more often have helped Arizona’s run blocking, too.

Of course, we don’t want the running game to be too successful for either team if we want the UNDER to cash in. But it has to be good enough to keep the chains moving, and even more so in Arizona’s case, or else it’ll be up to Lindley to win this game with his arm. He could end up throwing enough pick-sixes Sunday night to spoil our little enterprise. Better get those cold ones ready.

Free NFL Pick: Bet UNDER 36.5 at YouWager Sportsbook

comment here