The Week 9 NFL schedule gives us a matchup of former AFC West rivals as the Seattle Seahawks play host to the Los Angeles Chargers. Kickoff is set for 4:05 EST on Sunday, November 4, at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Fans on the west coast will be able to see the game on CBS.
The Seahawks are currently listed as 1.5-point favorites at home. That line has dropped slightly after Seattle began the week as 2-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 48 points. Click here to see a full list of this week’s NFL odds and game previews.
With the Rams all but claiming the NFC West as their own, the Seahawks are doing everything they can to remain in the hunt for a wild-card spot. After starting the season 0-2, Seattle has won four of their last five games to get to 4-3 on the season. They were even able to stay hot after their bye week, beating the Lions 28-14 on the road last week.
However, the Seahawks don’t have a win this season against a team that currently has a winning record. They also have a brutal November schedule ahead of them, so we’re going to find out if they’re for real or not soon. After this week’s game against the Chargers, the Seahawks have games lined up against the Rams, Packers, and Panthers the next three weeks, so a win this week is key knowing what’s ahead of them.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are doing their best to keep the pressure on the Chiefs at the top of the AFC West. Los Angeles has won four straight games, quietly becoming one of the hottest teams in football before last week’s bye. They are currently 5-2 on the season and just one game behind the Chiefs in the loss column, keeping them in the running for the division crown if the Chiefs slip up.
The caveat for the Chargers is that their five wins have come against some of the worst teams in the NFL. The five teams they’ve beaten have combined for just 10 wins this year. On the other hand, their only losses have come against the Rams and Chiefs, who are clearly the two best teams in the league. Something will have to give this week when the Chargers hit the road to face a team with a winning record.
Obviously, this is a game that could go either way. But I’m starting to buy Seattle stock after last week’s win. I also think there’s value in Seattle’s home-field advantage, especially in a game that looks so even on paper. I’ll give the Seahawks the benefit of the doubt and lean toward them to cover the small spread.
For the Chargers, scoring points hasn’t been a problem this season. They have an excellent running game, which has allowed Philip Rivers to play mistake-free football, throwing just three interceptions in seven games. As a result, the Chargers have a top-10 offense that’s averaging 28 points per game.
However, as mentioned, it’s fair to question the schedule they’ve played thus far. Even the Rams and Chiefs aren’t particularly good defensively. They faced a solid Tennessee defense last time out and only managed 20 points, a season-low for them. Both of the touchdowns in that game were on long touchdown passes rather than sustained drives. It may be unfair, but that gives me a little skepticism heading into this week’s game against the Seahawks.
This isn’t the same Seattle defense that took them to back-to-back Super Bowls earlier this decade. But the Seahawks are quietly top-5 in scoring defense and top-5 in takeaways. In their last five games, the Rams are the only team to manage more than 17 points against the Seahawks. I can’t guarantee they’ll be able to limit the Chargers to that kind of point total. But I do think Seattle has the kind of defense that can give Rivers some trouble and maybe force a turnover or two.
On the other side of the ball, the Seattle offense has come alive over the past month or so. The key has been their running game. Chris Carson has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games while Mike Davis has become a suitable complement. Being able to run the ball like that not only opens things up for Russell Wilson, but it also makes the Seahawks tough to beat once they get a lead since they can control the clock and let their defense handle the rest.
Speaking of Wilson, he’s not posting eye-popping numbers this year. But when the Seahawks can run the ball and give him good protection, he’s as efficient as they get. In his last five games, he has 11 touchdown passes to just one interception. He’s also getting a lot more help than he was early in the season. Doug Baldwin has returned from injury while David Moore and Tyler Lockett have come out of nowhere this year, giving Wilson three capable receiving targets.
The bottom line is that teams like Seattle that can run the ball, get efficient play at quarterback, and play good defense are tough to beat. The Chargers are probably a little more talented and explosive. But Seattle can grind out games over the course of four quarters and come out on top. Without much of a spread to cover, I’m confident leaning toward the Seahawks on Sunday.