The Seattle Seahawks host the Detroit Lions on Saturday, January 7th in the NFC wild card round. The home team has won three straight and seven of the last nine meetings, including a 13-10 home victory by the Seahawks in their most recent showdown last season.
Seattle (10-5-1) blew a chance at a first-round bye with its 31-34 upset home loss to Arizona in Week 16. The Seahawks took care of business in a 25-23 win at San Francisco in the finale, but the Falcons snatched up to the No. 2 seed with a win over the Saints as well.
Detroit (9-7) ended the season on a three-game losing streak and was fortunate just to get in to the playoffs. The Lions needed the Redskins to get upset at home by the Giants as 9-point favorites, and Washington obliged. But Detroit could have had a first-round home game had it not lost to Green Bay in the finale.
Kickoff inside CenturyLink Field is set for 8:15 EST Saturday night with NBC providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the NFL lines this week, I find Seattle as an 8-point favorite over Detroit with a total set of 42.5 points.
The Seahawks have certainly been hit-or-miss with their results down the stretch. But I think that has them flying under the radar a bit heading into the playoffs. This line would certainly be higher than 8 had they finished stronger, but I think we are actually getting a little bit of value here now that they didn’t finish great.
However, just looking at final scores would suggest that the Seahawks didn’t play well down the stretch. But if you look at the box scores, they actually weren’t bad at all. The Seahawks outgained seven of their final eight opponents, including four of them by 116 yards or more. They had the six-turnover debacle against the Packers to give that game away, and they had little to play for in their narrow win over the 49ers last week and actually rested starters in the second half.
The Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the NFL, period. They rank 5th in yardage differential, outgaining teams by an average of 38.5 yards per game on the season. They are 2nd in yards per play differential, outgaining teams by 0.6 yards per play as they average 5.6 per play on offense and give up 5.0 per play on defense.
The Lions are the real frauds here. There’s no way they should even be in the playoffs. They trailed in the 4th quarter in 15 of their 16 games this season, but managed to actually win eight of those, giving Matthew Stafford the record for 4th quarter comebacks in a season. But the Lions’ true colors showed down the stretch.
Stafford has exactly ONE career road victory against a team that finished the season with a winning record. He is now 4-43 lifetime in all games against teams that finished the season with a winning record.
If not for a hail mary at the end of the Packers’ game last week, the Lions would have lost their final three games all by double-digits. It started with a 6-17 road loss to the Giants as 4-point dogs in Week 15. Then they went on the road and lost 21-42 to the Cowboys as 6.5-point road dogs. The Lions had everything to play for in Week 17, and blew it with a 24-31 home loss to the Packers as 3.5-point dogs.
Matthew Stafford has clearly been bothered by his finger injury suffered in Week 14 against the Bears, a game in which he threw two interceptions in the second half and was fortunate to pull out a 20-17 home victory after trailing once again late. Stafford has exactly ONE career road victory against a team that finished the season with a winning record. He is now 4-43 lifetime in all games against teams that finished the season with a winning record.
And the raw numbers expose the Lions as well. They rank 24th in yardage differential, getting outgained by 16.0 yards per game. They are 25th in yards per play differential, getting outgained by 0.4 yards per play. They average 5.5 per play on offense and give up 5.9 per play on defense. And the Lions’ defense ranks 32nd against the pass according to Football Outsiders. They have allowed 73% completions and 33 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. They rank 30th in sacks (26), so the pass rush has been a big problem.
The Seahawks still have one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL as they are 7-1 SU at home this season, outscoring opponents by an average of 11.4 points per game. Seattle is 6-0 ATS in home games vs. poor passing defenses that allow 7.0 or more yards per attempt in the second half of the season over the last three seasons. The Lions are 16-33-2 ATS in their last 51 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. The Seahawks are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games.