Seattle Seahawks (1-4) +10.5, 38 O/U at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) -10.5, 38 O/U, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Fla., 8:15 PM Eastern, Sunday, NBC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Two teams heading in totally opposite directions meet up for an NFC interdivision tilt this Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks travel to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium on NBCs Sunday Night Football.
Already headed rapidly toward a disappointing final season for retiring head coach Mike Holmgren, the Seahawks have already announced they will be without staring quarterback Matt Hasselbeck this week as well as he recovers from a bad back and bum knee. Third- stringer Charlie Frye was ineffective in Seattles 27-17 loss at home to Green Bay last week, so Holmgren isnt ready to name a starter between him and Seneca Wallace just yet which only adds insult to Seahawks fans misery.
On the flip side, things are rosy in Buccaneer-land as Tampa Bay is coming off a dominating win over their rival Carolina Panthers, 27-3, which helped them take early control of the NFC South standings. Just when it looked like the Bucs would be overtaken by the Panthers in the South, the Bucs put together all three phases of the game to win their fourth game in their last five tries.
More importantly, the win came as the team rallied around former starter turned-backup quarterback Jeff Garcia for the big win. Garcia and Brian Griese have both shown they can lead the team to wins at quarterback, and with their typical strong defense in tow spirits are sky high in Tampa Bay right now.
Oddsmakers opened the game with Tampa Bay as 10.5-point favorites, but there are a few offshore sportsbooks that have already moved the number up, including 5Dimes.com where its already up to the Buccaneers minus 12-points. The total opened at 41 and has since dropped quickly to 38 when Holmgren broke the news on Monday that Hasselbeck would not play at all this week. The moneyline bet lists the Buccaneers as -475 favorites while the Seahawks are +435 underdogs.
Garcia is expected to start for the Bucs on Sunday as Griese continues to recover from his elbow injury. Garcia only threw for 173 yards and one touchdown in the win over Carolina, but he was efficient with the ball (15-for-20, 8 different receivers) and managed the offensive game plan like youd expect a veteran of his caliber to be able to do.
Frye is also a veteran quarterback, but he did not produce that type of success last week versus Green Bay. With a week to prepare, Frye was only 12-of-23 for 83 yards and had two crucial interceptions. He did throw for two touchdowns, but Seattles passing offense is ranked 31st in the league anyway (137.6 ypg) and has had so many injuries to the receiving core its not like theyre setting the world on fire anyway.
On paper, this is a game that looks like another chance for the Buccaneers defense to smother out another weak offense. The Bucs are 13th overall in yards allowed (312.2 ypg), but they have played excellent red zone defense and are ranked 4th in points allowed at 16.2 points per game.
Seattle defense is among the leagues worst, giving up an average of 355.8 yards a game (27th) and a bevy of big plays to account for the leagues 29th-ranked points allowed average of 30.2 points a game.
The Seahawks beat the Bucs, 20-6, on the opening Sunday of 2007 season to continue their dominance over them throughout history. That gave Seattle their third straight victory in the head-to-head series, and their fifth in six games played between the two since the 1994 season.
Thevbetting trends in this matchup are all over the map, as Seattle is 4-2 ATS including three straight covers four out of their last five. Heck, the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five games. The only problem with these stats is the fact that betting on the Seahawks right now is risky (1-4 ATS in 08),
There are some trends that favor the Bucs too, as they are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games in Raymond James Stadium. They also tend to show little mercy to teams they should beat, as they are 10-4-1 in their last 15 games versus a team with a losing record.
Plus, the past five games have all come in under the total as the under bet is 5-1 in the series. And were not talking very high totals either, as the closing total at kickoff ranged anywhere from a low of 36 to a high of 40.5, so this years number of 38 seems to be right where you would expect.
Badgers Pick: Seattles offense will have a very hard time scoring this week, so ultimately I think the Bucs will cover the number in the game. But my money is on the under of 38, as Im looking at a 31-3 or 27-6 victory for the Buccaneers. Take the under of 38.