Once November hits, most football fans start looking ahead to Thanksgiving week.
Of course, the front-loaded schedule forces us away from our typical routine, but it's a small price to pay for getting a full day of betting on turkey day. The lock of the week is that I will certainly have some level of action in all three games. However, it's important to remember there are still 12 games waiting for us on Sunday.
Now that we are in the back half of the season, edges are steadily diminishing, highlighting the importance of getting ahead of the market early in the week. There are a few games I have already fired on, including one of my favorite bets of Week 12.
Good luck finding a game featuring two teams with more contrasting seasons. As shocking as it is to find Pete Carroll at the top of the NFC West, the level of disappointment in Las Vegas' season is equally astonishing. Before the regular season kicked off, the general market consensus had the Raiders as 3-point favorites in this matchup, a massive 6.5-point swing from where we sit today. And here's the scary part: It's not nearly enough.
We can agree that there are stronger six-win teams in the league than Seattle, but the Hawks have proved they can close out games against bad teams. The Seahawks reeled off four straight wins before falling to the Buccaneers in Germany. I can understand fading Seattle when they have to punch up in competition, but that's not the scenario we have with them facing Las Vegas on Sunday. Very few teams have struggled as much as the Raiders. Before Sunday's win, they lost three consecutive games to the Colts, Jaguars and Saints Their three victories have come against the Broncos (twice) and Texans. They trailed Houston, arguably the worst team in the league, heading into the fourth quarter. An overtime win over Denver doesn't convince me anything has improved in Las Vegas.
Seattle can be overrated, but there is still a larger gap between these two teams than the current spread indicates. Per Football Outsiders, Las Vegas lands at 25th in overall DVOA while enjoying the second-easiest strength of schedule in the league. However, even against weak competition, the Raiders defense has been one of the worst in the NFL. Patrick Graham's unit held up last week against a broken Broncos offense, but here is how they measure up in three key metrics:
Defensive DVOA : 32nd
EPA per play allowed: 32nd
Defensive success rate: 27th
The Raiders are also last in dropback EPA allowed, and Geno Smith has feasted against soft secondaries this season. Smith recorded passing grades above 90 against both Detroit and New Orleans, two teams that also rank in the bottom five in EPA per dropback allowed. The Seahawks scored 48 and 32 points in those games. Smith also averaged 10.7 yards per pass attempt, 294 yards passing, and a combined 5-0 TD/Int ratio. There is nothing to lead me in the direction that Seattle won't score at will in this matchup, especially considering the offense had an extra week to prepare.
You will often hear bettors discuss how points to the underdog are more valuable in lower-scoring games, and the reverse is true. Games with high-projected totals like this one give the favorite more possessions to widen the margin of victory. The Raiders have played in five games where the total closed at 47 or above. They are 1-4 ATS, with only one of those games decided by less than five points. Josh McDaniels' offense has only produced 24 or more points twice this season, so expecting them to chase Seattle deep into the 30s is overly optimistic.
Lumen Field is one of the loudest stadiums in the league, and it should be a decent advantage for the Seattle defense. We are getting the seventh-ranked team in net success rate versus the 30th. The Seahawks will have a motivational edge with the 49ers win, plus they are well-rested off the bye and feeding from the energy from Seattle's famous 12s. Meanwhile, the Raiders are off a win, playing in their fourth road game in five weeks. I would play this up to four points, so seeing a 3.5 on the board made this an easy bet.
Stats provided by pff, rbsdm (based on 90-10 WP), teamrankings, and football outsiders.