The Seattle Seahawks welcome the Green Bay Packers to Qwest Field Saturday night. Oddsmakers initially listed the Seahawks as 2 point favorites, but heavy public betting on the Pack (90% at some sites) has brought the line down. According to our NFL point spreads page, sportsbooks are now offering the ‘Hawks at -1 or simply as a pick game.
The betting public appears ready to jump on the Green Bay bandwagon this season. Last week the public was all over the Packers at home against the Cleveland Browns. Playing with superior talent against a lesser opponent at Lambeau Field, the Pack was not able put away a determined Browns squad, to the dismay of many bettors. But for those who visit Maddux Sports, I recommended fading the public-favorite Packers last week against the Browns, and fading Green Bay again seems like a good idea this week.
Against the Browns, Green Bay was ok. Aaron Rodgers was exceptional, completing his first 10 passes and ending up 12-13 for 159 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown toss was pretty – a 25 yard strike to Greg Jennings, just over the safety after reading the corner blitz. But Ryan Grant was forced to leave after his first carry, receiving a hard hit to the head that resulted in a fumble for the Pack and a concussion for Grant. Grant is expected to be held out of Saturday’s game. Rodgers backup Matt Flynn was less than spectacular, going 9-15 for 69 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) and an interception.
More troubling than the offense was the play of the defense, one of the NFL’s best last season. The Browns put up 3 first half touchdowns behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Part of the problem is the absence of linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and cornerback Al Harris (knee), two of Green Bay’s defensive anchors. That isn’t the only problem, though. Green Bay ended last season with a playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals during which the defense yielded an astounding 45 points. It seems problems are mounting for the Packer defense.
Seattle, like Green Bay, looked average when they beat the Tennessee Titans, 20-18. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had a miserable game, going 4-10 for 26 yards, and leading his team to only three points. Backup Charlie Whitehurst picked up the slack left by Hasselbeck, completing 14 of 22 passes for 214 yards, including 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The running game for Seattle was modest; four running backs combined for 26 carries and 87 yards.
Defensively, Seattle gave up a touchdown on Tennessee’s first drive. But for the rest of the first quarter, and all of the second and third quarters, the ‘Hawks blanked the Titans. Leading 20-7 at the start of the fourth, the favored Seahawks were poised to cover the 3 ½ point spread. Then a Tennessee field goal, along with a late touchdown and 2 point conversion negated what looked like a sure win for ‘Hawks backers.
Pete Carroll’s enthusiasm on the sidelines and the energy of Qwest Field will certainly help the Seahawks chances but the difference in this game will likely come on the defensive side of the football. These two units are headed in different directions. With so many question marks for Green Bay and after Seattle’s strong effort last week, consider fading the public favorite in this matchup.