I cannot wait for Monday Night Football this week, because the nation should finally get an idea of just how good the Seattle Seahawks are. Seattle will travel out of their friendly confines to face San Francisco as underdogs of nearly a touchdown to close out Week 10.
The 49ers are the #1 rated team in the NFL per DVOA and may have a defense capable of shutting down the Seahawks offense. On the other side of the ball, Seattle has shown a leaky secondary, one that may be ripe for exploitation by Jimmy Garoppolo. With potential mismatches on both sides of the ball, are the bookmakers giving too much credit to Seattle for their record, and not looking enough at how they achieved that record?
Seattle Offense vs. San Francisco Defense
What Seattle undoubtedly has going for them is an MVP candidate at quarterback in Russell Wilson. The NFL leader in QBR at 78.5, Wilson has thrown just one interception this year, compared to 22 touchdowns. He’s completing 68.3% of his passes for 8.5 yards per attempt. However, he’ll be going up against the league’s #1 pass defense on Monday night.
This will be an epic strength vs. strength showdown, as the Seahawks feature the #3 offense in the league in both weighted and total DVOA. And while the 49ers are second to none at defending the pass, they’ve been vulnerable defending the run, ranking just 20th in defensive efficiency. We saw this on full display last Thursday, as Kenyan Drake ran for 110 yards on 15 carries in his first game for the Cardinals. With the Seahawks preferring to run to set up the pass, Seattle may have the perfect formula to solve the 49ers vaunted defense.
Seattle ranks 8th in the NFL in rush yards per game at 131.7 and by establishing the run, Russell Wilson should have more success than expected considering how good the 49ers pass defense has been. But the problem for the Seahawks is an offensive line ranked 20th in adjusted sack rate, going up a 49ers defensive line ranked #1 overall in adjusted sack rate.
49ers Offense vs. Seahawks Defense
Although the Seahawks look capable of scoring on the San Francisco defense, they may be unprepared on the other side of the ball. Seattle ranks just 27th in defensive efficiency, and they’ll be facing a quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo coming off his best performance of the year. Garoppolo ranks 6th in the NFL in QBR at 69, not too far behind Wilson, and is completing even more passes than his counterpart at a 70.1% completion rate.
What Jimmy G has not done as well is protect the football, with 7 interceptions to 13 touchdown passes. Most of those picks though came early in the season as four of his interceptions came in the first three games, while the other three have come in his last five games. The Niners do an excellent job of helping their quarterback in pass protection, ranking fifth in adjusted sack rate on the offensive line.
While Jimmy G is a weapon for the 49ers, what they really want to do is run the hell out of the ball. San Francisco ranks second in the league in rush yards per game to Baltimore with 171.1 yards on the ground. Their offensive line ranks 8th in adjusted line yards, and that’s been without both starting tackles for the past four games. Left tackle Joe Staley, right tackle Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszczyk are all practicing and are expected to play on Monday.
This line opened at 49ers -5.5 and has been pushed up to -6 with the bigger early bets on the Niners. Overall, 64% of the bets are on the Seahawks, but those bets account for just 60% of the money.
The Seahawks should be able to run the ball effectively, but if the Niners can make them one dimensional by getting after Wilson, the ground game may not be enough for Seattle to keep this game close. On the other side of the ball, San Francisco should be able to take advantage of a Seahawks defense that ranks 21st against the pass and 22nd against the run.
While 6 points is a lot to cover in what should be a competitive game, there may be value on San Francisco at anything under a touchdown.
As far as the total goes, the number opened at 45 points and has been bet up as high as 47. I agree with this move, and see more points being scored than the general public may expect given the 49ers' inability to defend the run, combined with the Seahawks below-average defense.
by Kyle Johansen