The Seattle Seahawks, who look to be getting a gift matchup against the Jaguars in Week 3, made an emotional statement on Sunday night.
That statement, quite simply, is they are the best team in the National Football League.
That very emotion, however, is set to turn on them after going off as a 20-point favorite in an apparent upcoming bloodbath against the Jacksonville Jaguars. "Apparent" would be the operative word here.
Jacksonville (+20) over Seattle (Sportsbook.com)
This is a college spread hopelessly wandering around in a league of professionals. Mainstream talking heads fell in love with Seattle's high-profile victory and are owed a "thank you" from the sharps. To the public, anything less than a home blowout seems uncivilized.
Looking deeper tells a different story that could blossom into one of the so-called shockers this weekend.
The Seahawks are coming off of a turnover-influenced, nationally televised blowout win at home. Russell Wilson's putrid 4.04 adjusted yards per attempt was only better than Colin Kaepernick's because the latter was negative.
The win came against Seattle's chief division rival and Super Bowl threat, the San Francisco 49ers. Seattle's emotion—and its 12th man—literally peaked that night, as CenturyLink Field broke the Guinness World Record for loudest stadium, according to Tony Drovetto of Seahawks.com.
Now, the Seahawks get a Jaguars team thought by many pundits to be the worst in the NFL. The Jags get value as a non-conference opponent following a divisional victory. Seattle does not see a divisional opponent, the most pivotal brand of competition in the NFL, until Week 7. They may look to play a vanilla scheme, folding their proverbial cards should they build an early lead.
Some observers don't even know Jacksonville has a head coach, but here's where it gets interesting. Gus Bradley, head coach of the Jaguars, is a former Seahawks defensive coordinator, who was with Seattle as recently as 2012, so he has locker room knowledge of the Seahawks' personnel.
The Jags also get value as a spread-range underdog. The team's margin against the spread this season is a woeful -8, compared the Seahawks, who have covered by a total of seven points. The combined spread range of 15 in favor of Seattle spells inflation.
The most surefire bet of the weekend resides in Seattle. It just won't be the result that most are expecting.
Prediction: Seattle, 17-14
Pittsburgh (+3) over Chicago (Bovada)
Predictably, the Redskins have come down precipitously in 2013 and despite Chicago's best efforts to stave off their own inflation, they are destined to follow suit. Also working against Chicago is an unsustainable mark of having scored nine touchdowns on defense and special teams last season.
Chicago is coming off a sloppy win, turning over the ball four times (to Minnesota's three turnovers), en route to a last-second victory over the Vikings. The Steelers will get an emotional lift from a home crowd in prime time in a must-win game.
Prediction: Pittsburgh, 21-10
Kansas City (+3.5) over Philadelphia (Sportsbook.com)
After allowing 33 points at home, the Eagles are a shaky home favorite against the 2-0 Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles will have a short week to fix their glaring problems on defense that are likely to persist throughout the season, if not the entire Chip Kelly administration.
Thursday night's narrative will tell a tale of Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia. This is an especially important tale for handicapping purposes, as Reid's 14-year stint around around Philadelphia's personnel is still fresh in his mind after getting fired in 2012.
Kansas City has bought into Reid after a strong start and will look to earn a special win for its new head coach given the circumstances.
Kansas City's +4 turnover ratio is the best in the league as quarterback Alex Smith's game management serves well against the spread when he has a supporting cast.
Prediction: Kansas City, 27-23
Week 2 ATS: 2-1-0
Season ATS: 2-3-1