NFL Week 7 Thursday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers +7.5 (-140)
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
October 22, 2015, 5:25pm PDT
Our Thursday Night Football picks are 3-0-2 this season (see here and here). We will look to continue our hot streak in opening games when the Seahawks head south to Santa Clara, CA to face the San Francisco 49ers and kick off NFL week 7 action.
Per our linchpin power rankings approaches, ESPN's FPI and FiveThirtyEight's Elo Ratings, the Seahawks rank #8 and #5 respectively, while the 49ers are #28 and #18. After factoring in San Francisco's home field advantage these approaches make Seattle's edge to be in the 2-6 point range -- shy of the +7.5 we took at 5Dimes. In fact, factors in our model are unanimous in advocating for the Niners to cover. Our power rankings composite, which includes data from TeamRankings and Massey-Peabody in addition to incorporating FPI and Elo Ratings, suggests about a field goal of value for 49ers backers. Similarly, the simulation/computer prediction component of our methodology indicates 1-4 points of value the Niners way.
The 49ers' Colin Kaepernick has played excellent football of late. Kaep's 340 yards and 2 aerial TDs (with no interceptions) at home last week stunned the Baltimore Ravens, who lost outright as 2.5 point favorites. The effort qualified for 6th best Total QBR for the week. In San Francisco's prior outing, the Niners' QB put up 262 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in a cover and near win at the New York Giants -- good for the #4 spot in the Total QBR lineup. Thus, while San Francisco is an unflattering 2-4 on the season (and 3-3 versus the number), the 49ers, behind the much improved play of Colin Kaepernick, appear to be on the upswing.
On the other hand, Seattle's vulnerability to the fourth quarter lapse has reared it's ugly head this year. As a result, the former contenders currently sit at the bottom of their division with an unenviable record of 2-4 straight up and an even worse 1-5 ATS. Per Elo Ratings, the Seahawks' playoff chances have dwindled to 42% from 78% before the first game of the year.
Recall that Seattle infamously blew a 10 point lead in the final period of Superbowl 49 this past February, in what turned out to be a 28-24 loss to the New England Patriots. Picking up where they left off, the Seahawks have managed only 9 points collectively in the fourth quarter this season, and have been shut-out during the money period on four of six occasions.
Thus , while we concede that Seattle is a statistically superior team to San Francisco, a 7.5 point premium seems excessive for a struggling Seahawks unit after a disappointing loss, versus a Niners squad coming off an upset win. One sign that sentiment might be unduly influencing the betting line is that CBSSports experts are lockstep in endorsing a Seahawks cover (in fairness, the pros at CBSSports piled on at Seattle -5.5, thus it is possible for both their pick as well as our own to pay).
At any rate, betting against such herding has proven a profitable strategy historically. As recently as last week, fading this group's concordant picks went 2-1.
We like the potential for San Francisco to pull to within one score late versus their division rivals. Seattle has lost every fourth quarter they have played, while San Francisco has been outscored but once.
These teams have met six times during the regular season since 2012. Seatle has dominated the series, winning 4 times absolutely and going 5-0-1 against the spread. We are playing for a reversal Thursday. Side with the home dogs +7.5 -- north of the key 7 point threshold.