LAST WEEK STRAIGHT UP: 9-5
LAST WEEK vs. SPREAD: 5-9
SEASON STRAIGHT UP: 68-37
SEASON vs. SPREAD: 50-55
Man, but I took a beating against the spread last week. Good thing I'm not actually betting on my picks, huh? And if any of you are, despite my unambiguous disclaimer below, it's all on you, not me. In any case, you don't know where I live anyway.
If there is anything that can be said to characterize the Seattle Seahawks this season, it is that they play to the level of their opposition. Which is to say, barely well enough to beat the crap teams (Bears, Lions, 49ers) and just poorly enough - especially in the fourth quarter - to agonizingly fall short to the quality teams (Packers, Bengals, Panthers). And at the Rams is simply at the Rams and always will be.
Ordinarily I wouldn't hesitate, on the above grounds, to write off today's game in Big D. The Cowboys have the one factor above any other that has killed the 'hawks all season long: a top-level quarterback in Tony Romo. Sure, our D-line and linebackers can probably at least slow down their "running game by committee," though it's still #7 in the league thanks to the Pokes' O-line remaining one of the best in the NFL. Maybe even take a second-half lead. But when it comes to the final stanza, Romo will throw two or three touchdowns and lead Dallas to the glorious come-from-behind victory the yielding of which as become an embarrassing Seattle trademark in 2015.
Except....Tony Romo is still on IR, and it's Matt Cassel that's calling the signals. The same Matt Cassel that threw three picks last week against the New York Giants' #30 pass defense. One would like to think that the slumbering Legion could make up for a lot of lost time and ground at this backup's expense, even if the Cowboys' O-line does its expected job of preventing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett from, as it were, "storming the Cassel".
The other side of the ball, though, is where this game will be won or lost, and for the same reason: Our offensive line sucks, Russell Wilson - again, the most mobile quarterback in the league - has been sacked an NFL-high thirty-one times in seven games, and hit a bunch more. Marshawn Lynch is going to have to be consistently productive in the running game (the Cowboys are a respectable #10 against the run, and, oh by the way, Lynch-esque rookie Thomas Rawls is out this week, so if Beast Mode's hammy seizes up again, well....) to keep Dallas's formidable pass rush honest to the point where RW3 has a fighting chance to stay out of a wheelchair by the time the final gun goes off - something that, for all his ability to absorb hits and bounce right back up, I am just waiting to happen, it's so overdue.
In the end, I'm counting on Tony Romo's absence being the difference. Although with Dez Bryant returning this week, that could be the lifeline that Matt Cassel needs to send the ex-Champs into their bye week with the losing record they've sported for the past month demoralizingly intact.
Straight up picks indicated by asterisk (*); picks against the spread in parentheses (x). And no, don't bet the farm on these picks; they're just for my amusement and your aggravation. Or vice versa. We'll see how it turns out, now, won't we?
Kansas City* (-4.5)
New Orleans* (-3)
N.Y. Jets* (-2)
St., Louis* (-8.5)