In must-win situation, bank on desperate Seahawks at home

When the Seattle Seahawks are on their home field, the odds should be in their favor. It’s not a fluke that quarterback Russell Wilson has a 29-3 career record at home.

But the odds are against the Seahawks, who have played in the past two Super Bowls, being a playoff team this season. With another loss today, their situation would become one of desperation.

Seattle (4-4) is a 3-point home favorite over Arizona, which leads the NFC West at 6-2.

“The Seahawks need this game. Dropping to 4-5 would put them in a bad position,” said handicapper Mike Scalleat (JimFeist.com). “To me, this is like a must-win game for Seattle.”

After starting 0-2, the Seahawks dug a deep hole. Since the NFL expanded to a 12-team postseason in 1990, only 23 of 204 teams to go 0-2 made the steep climb to reach the playoffs. Of course, Seattle has a more impressive pedigree than almost all of those teams, so it’s not over yet.

The Seahawks are 2-1 at home, losing to Carolina on Oct. 18, and Wilson passed for three touchdowns with no interceptions in those games. Running back Marshawn Lynch, listed as questionable with an abdominal injury, is expected to play against Arizona.

The Cardinals split their past two road games, coming back to beat Cleveland 34-20 on Nov. 1 after falling 25-13 at Pittsburgh.

“I like Bruce Arians as a coach, and I like Arizona,” Scalleat said. “But the Seahawks are a better home team than the Cardinals are a road team. I know the Seahawks have not played up to their potential, and I don’t think they are a Super Bowl team this year, but it’s a cheap number for Seattle at home.”

Scalleat, 25-19-1 in the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, used Seattle, Tennessee, Washington, Kansas City and the New York Giants as his five contest plays this week.

Scalleat scouts the rest of today’s Week 10 schedule:

Detroit at Green Bay (-10½): The Lions are off a bye, but before that they were hammered 45-10 by the Chiefs in London. Detroit is 1-7 straight up and ATS. This team is showing nothing, and coach Jim Caldwell has no answers. The Packers are off back-to-back losses, so they need to start winning again if they want home field in the NFC playoffs. James Starks is starting at running back with Eddie Lacy going to the bench, which I think is a good move for Green Bay. Lacy looks overweight. I don’t like double-digit favorites in the NFL, but I’m going with the Packers.

Dallas at Tampa Bay (-1): This is a tough game to pick, but I like the Cowboys in this matchup. Dallas has lost six in a row but should somehow find a way to beat this team. The Giants handled the Buccaneers last week. The Cowboys have to get out of this slump before Tony Romo comes back. Matt Cassel passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles, and Darren McFadden rushed for 117 yards. The Dallas defense should be able to make things tough on Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.

Carolina (-4) at Tennessee: The Panthers are 8-0, but this line shows they still are not getting any respect. I bet the Titans at 5½, and the line keeps coming down. Tennessee played hard last week for interim coach Mike Mularkey. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota had four touchdown passes in the win at New Orleans. I’m not sure if the Titans will win, but I like the home underdog to cover.

Chicago at St. Louis (-7): The Rams are a better team at home on the turf, but this line is too high. Todd Gurley is a tough runner, but if you’re counting on Nick Foles to win games, that’s risky because he’s just not the quarterback he was two years ago in Philadelphia. He has completed only 58.2 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns. Jay Cutler played well Monday in the Bears’ win at San Diego. I think Chicago can hang in and make this a close game if Cutler can keep it going.

New Orleans at Washington (Pick): Kirk Cousins is good enough to move the ball against a weak Saints defense that allows 29.8 points per game. I still like Cousins better than Robert Griffin III as the Redskins’ quarterback. New Orleans is a 1-point favorite at some books, but the Saints should not be favored on the road on grass. I have a feeling the Redskins will show up and play well, so this is one of my plays.

Miami at Philadelphia (-6): Sam Bradford showed some positive signs last week. He passed for 295 yards in 36 attempts and was sacked only once. The Eagles want to play fast on offense, and they are improving. Philadelphia is scoring 24.1 points per game. The Dolphins beat two bad teams — Tennessee and Houston — after Dan Campbell took over as interim coach. I don’t want to bet on Miami to cover. I do think Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ wide receivers can have success. I look for the Eagles to score around 30 points, so I like this over the total (49).

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-5½): It looks as if the Browns will start Johnny Manziel at quarterback, and the Steelers will go with Landry Jones. That means both teams will be running the ball a lot. The Pittsburgh defense will be all over Manziel, so I don’t see Cleveland scoring much. I can’t lay the points with the Steelers, who were up on Oakland by 14 and won by a field goal last week. With inexperienced quarterbacks in this situation, I’ll look under the total (41½).

Jacksonville at Baltimore (-5): The Ravens are 2-6, with both wins by a field goal. Why are they laying 5 points here? This is rare, but I’m going to go with the Jaguars. Blake Bortles makes mistakes, but he’s getting better as a second-year quarterback. He got Jacksonville the cover late in the game against the Jets last week. Bortles’ completion percentage (56.3) is low, but he has 17 touchdown passes. Baltimore was a bad offensive team even before wide receiver Steve Smith was lost for the season.

Minnesota at Oakland (-3): I like the way the Raiders are playing. At 4-4, they have a shot to be a playoff team, so this is a big home game. Derek Carr has some good wide receivers now, and the Oakland defense is pretty solid. Adrian Peterson, who leads the league in rushing with 758 yards, will have to carry the Minnesota offense. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater got beat up last week, so you don’t know how he’s going to bounce back. I’ll go with the Raiders.

Kansas City at Denver (-4½): When these teams met in Week 2, the Chiefs had the game won and blew it. Kansas City is off a bye week, after a big win over the Lions in London, and coach Andy Reid is 14-2 straight up off the bye. Peyton Manning continues to struggle. He has thrown 13 interceptions. The Denver defense will be without DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib, so that hurts. I bet Kansas City plus-6.

New England (-7) at New York Giants: The Giants are 5-4 and in first in the NFC East, so they have a lot to play for, and the Patriots are a team they are not afraid of playing. New York’s rushing attack has been effective, and Eli Manning looks sharp. Manning has good receivers, and the New England defense is beat up. The Patriots will miss injured running back Dion Lewis. The Giants know how to shake up Tom Brady. I played the Giants when the line moved to 7½.

— Compiled by Matt Youmans/Las Vegas Review-Journal

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