It’s not unusual for a home team to be the underdog for an NFL playoff game. It’s even less surprising for home teams to lose outright, especially in the opening round.
Wild-card teams occasionally have superior records, yet still must open on the road against an inferior division winner. If the NFL wants to give a playoff berth to a 9-7 division winner, make it go on the road to play an 11-5 wild-card team. But that’s another problem.
Stale fish wrappers at the local seafood market were more appealing than the NFC East, whose four teams went 12-28 in games outside of the division. The Eagles, 4-6 against the rest of the league, are now slight underdogs after opening as high as 3-point favorites, according to one sportsbook official.
After an initial bump of volatility, the line has settled at Seattle -1.5 in many shops, -2 in others.
“Our [opening] line was at Seattle -1 while almost every other 'book went up with the Eagles as small favorites,” said Pat Eichner, director of communications at PointsBet USA. “We had Eagles at -1 for a very tiny bit, but the Seahawks seem to be the correct favorite and the line has continued to move their way to support that.”
The tracking site NumberFire.com, as of Thursday evening, was showing that 80 percent of the money and 75 percent of the tickets written on the Eagle-Seahawks’ point spread at various books have been on Seattle. So Eagles fans won’t be the only people rooting for the green Birds on Sunday.
Said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill-US, “All money so far is on the Seahawks. Both teams are injury-riddled, but what Philly has gone through is almost impossible.”
Some other things to consider:
♦ Road teams are 10-10 straight-up in the wild-card round in the last five seasons, including the Eagles’ heart-stopping win at Chicago last year.
♦ Quarterback Russell Wilson has played eight of his 13 postseason games away from home, including two Super Bowls. The Seahawks are 4-4, both straight-up and against the spread in those games.
♦ The Seahawks won in Philadelphia, 17-9, in Week 12. The Eagles could be missing six starters from that game depending on Miles Sanders’ and Zach Ertz’s availability. Seattle has lost three.
♦ The Eagles played five games against playoff teams, going 2-3 both straight-up and against the spread. The wins: at Green Bay, at Buffalo. The losses: at Minnesota, vs. New England, vs. Seattle.
♦ Seattle played six games against playoff teams, going 3-3 both straight-up and ATS. The wins: at San Francisco, at Eagles, vs. Minnesota. The losses (all at home): New Orleans, Baltimore, San Francisco.
♦ I’ve been dreadful in best bets in our staff picks this year (7-10) and am taking the Seahawks. Fade accordingly.
Boston Scott (+550) is favored at FanDuel to score the game’s first touchdown. Greg Ward is +1400. ... Action will heat up over the weekend, but there was a $12,000 wager on the Bills at +3 at DraftKings’ sportsbook at Resorts in Atlantic City. ... According to NumberFire.com, there’s a slight lean toward Buffalo (53 percent), a little more toward Tennessee (61 percent) and a heavy tilt toward New Orleans (80 percent) among bettors at various outlets. ... Parx has the Eagles at 14-1 to win the NFC and 30-1 to win the Super Bowl.