All sorts of problems have surfaced for the Seattle Seahawks this season, but quarterback Russell Wilson never has been one. Even when the team was fraying around the edges, Wilson was smooth.
He had plenty of reasons to slip into a slump. In the offseason, he filed for divorce. During the season, he has been surrounded by mediocre wide receivers and a good running back with a bad attitude. A weaker man might have turned to Oprah for help.
Still, when a Super Bowl hangover hit the Seahawks in October, Wilson continued to play at a high level, and he’s the primary reason the team will return to the playoffs.
It was ugly at times, but Seattle (8-4) has won five of its past six games to again become a relevant part of the Super Bowl discussion.
But are the Seahawks really back? Did victories over Carolina, Oakland and the New York Giants truly prove anything? How significant is it that they beat Arizona and San Francisco the past two weeks?
Those questions could be answered Sunday, when Wilson leads the Seahawks into Philadelphia to face the Eagles, who are 6-0 at home and on a roll after destroying Dallas on Thanksgiving.
Wilson does not put up the video-game numbers of the NFL’s elite passers. He has a modest 15 touchdown passes, putting him in the neighborhood of Brian Hoyer and nowhere near Aaron Rodgers. Wilson is dangerous out of the pocket, running for 679 yards and four scores.
But the Eagles’ biggest problem is defending the pass, which is why Rodgers took them apart in Green Bay and why Wilson and his mediocre receivers are a more favorable matchup for Philadelphia.
Seattle scored only 19 points in each game against the Cardinals, who are struggling with Drew Stanton at quarterback, and the 49ers, who are struggling with Colin Kaepernick.
Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is showing he can run coach Chip Kelly’s fast-break offense and not sabotage the team with turnovers. In the past two games, Sanchez completed 50 of 72 passes (69.4 percent) for 524 yards while the Eagles put up 76 points. Wilson is the far better quarterback, but Philadelphia has more explosive playmakers — running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, to name two.
The Seahawks are a .500 team on the road, still with a lot to prove. I’ll go with the Eagles as 1-point home favorites.
Four more opinions for Week 14 (home team in CAPS):
■ Ravens (+3) over DOLPHINS: This is a situational play. I like good teams off a bad home loss, and Baltimore was stunned in the final minute last week. I like to bet against teams off a Monday night road win, and Miami was lucky to escape from New York. The Dolphins have lost 13 of their past 14 games after playing the Jets, which is a weird trend. Joe Flacco is an erratic quarterback, but he has the weapons to exploit the Dolphins defense. This game is important to both teams in the AFC playoff race. The Ravens rate as a slightly better team with a better coach. I would not bet this at plus-2½, however.
■ Steelers (+3) over BENGALS: Pittsburgh’s defense, ripped for 35 points by Drew Brees a week ago, is finally close to full strength and capable of rattling quarterback Andy Dalton. The Steelers are 11-2 against the spread in their past 13 trips to Cincinnati. Ben Roethlisberger has a right hand injury, but he was reported to be sharp in Thursday’s practice.
■ Bills (+10) over BRONCOS: It seems something is not quite right with Peyton Manning, who is beating defenses with his brain and not his arm strength. In its most recent home game, Denver was outplayed by the Dolphins for three quarters. Buffalo has the league’s No. 5 defense, anchored by a front that pressures the quarterback. The concern is whether Kyle Orton and the Bills can score enough to cover.
■ Patriots (-3½) over CHARGERS: New England has not dropped two straight regular-season games since Week 3 in 2012. It’s tough to lay more than a field goal, but Tom Brady will put points on the board, and the Patriots have been beating down some of the league’s best teams.
Last week: 2-3 against the spread
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.