BadNFL tries to continue its painful journey back to respectability this week by jumping on a game involving two teams who have screwed me this year -- the Chiefs (when I picked them) and the Seahawks twice (when I picked against them). I'm finally picking the Seahawks, so hopefully they'll continue their trend of winning handily in games that I pick. Here's why:
The game is at Qwest Field.
Pretty simple logic, really. Both of these teams have generally played well at home and poorly on the road. Specifically, the Chiefs are 1-4 in their 5 road games thus far this year, and their only win was a 2 point squeaker. Conversely, the Seahawks are 3-1 at home, with 3 pretty convincing wins and 1 bad loss to the Giants. Importantly, the Seahawks were quarterbacked by Charlie Whitehurst -- making his first career start -- in that loss. He will not be quarterbacking this game. If the pattern holds, the Chiefs will again turn in a lackluster performance, particularly since they are playing at Qwest Field -- one of the most hostile environments in the NFL. It's really a perfect storm: the Chiefs, who are perhaps more dependent on the Arrowhead advantage than any team in the NFL, going on the road to play in a venue that is traditionally the hardest on visiting teams. I rarely think that home-field advantage has decisive statistical relevance, but given the particular makeup of these two teams, I think that the venue takes on paramount importance.
I also think that the Seahawks match-up fairly well against the Chiefs' running game, which is their primary strength. Indeed, while the Seahawks' total run defense is above average at 13th in the NFL, their per-carry defense is very solid at 8th in the NFL (3.9 YPC). Not only that, but Hasselbeck has been playing well, and and thus there's a chance that the early home-field advantage could propel the Seahawks to a big early lead; if that happens, I think you'll see KC abandon the run, like they did in that ill-fated Denver game.
THE COUNTER-ARGUMENT: SEAHAWKS' INJURIES
It's true that the Seahawks have suffered a lot of injuries, most noticeably to their starting nosetackle and best WR. There's a chance that the Seahawks will play worse this week than they have in their previous home games because of these injuries. But they have Hasselbeck back, which seems to distinguish this game from the only Seahawks' home loss of the year, and the Chiefs have been too lackluster on the road this year to justify this spread. The Chiefs are also 2-4 against the spread as favorites this year, and 0-2 outright in games in which they were road favorites. I expect that trend to continue.
Finally, I'm not worried that this home/road split argument is too obvious, because the line has moved steadily in the Chiefs' favor, and 75% of the public money now sits on the Chiefs. In other words, this looks like a great candidate for another successful contrarian bet. The Seahawks are off a bad loss to the Saints and the Chiefs are off a dominating home win against Arizona. Which makes it the perfect time to pick the Seahawks. Seattle covers.