NFL

NFL Week 15: Seattle and Buffalo to beat the handicap with points galore in Atlanta

December 17, 2020

Washington Football Team v Seattle Seahawks

Much has been made of Seattle’s imbalance this season ; the brilliance of Russell Wilson & an often-electrifying offense, undermined by a poor defense. But as the regular season nears its close, with the Seahawks still very much in contention for the playoffs, they find themselves improving defensively, particularly developing a pass rush, but regressing with the ball, primarily because of a porous and unsteady offensive line, which has allowed Wilson to be sacked 40 times.

Which makes for an interesting match-up against a Washington team, also in content by virtue of its place in the hapless NFC East, who’s modest success has been predicated on its dynamic front 7 led by the superb rookie Chase Young, who have racked up 40 sacks and counting, ranking them 4th in the league. Their pass Defense is impressive too, ranking 3rd in Yards Per Game allowed, although one that’s also given up 10 plays of 40+ yards

Offensively, Seattle used their free hit against the winless Jets last week to re-instil confidence, with Wilson in fine form throwing for 4 TD’s, and a solid ground game led by Chris Carson finding its groove. Washington pose an altogether different test of course to the Jets, but Seattle will land blows – Wilson almost always finds a way to do so.

Crucially, Alex Smith and Antonio Gibson are doubtful for Washington, and therein lies the problem. Even with both, I think they struggle to keep this within a field goal, and without them, within a TD.

Match Odds – Washington (2/1), Seattle (21/50)
Tip – Seattle -5.5 at 10/11

 

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Bucaneers 

Raheem Morris has steadied the Falcons ship since being handed the reins mid-season and should be seriously considered as the permanent replacement for Dan Quinn. He’s gone 4-3 since being appointed and could have had an even better record if the inconsistent offense, once the most dependable thing about the Atlanta organisation, had found a ground game. Matt Ryan threw 3 INT’s in the narrow defeat to the LA Chargers last week and Injuries haven’t helped either, with star wideout Julio Jones struggling for much of the season with injury, and he may not figure again this weekend. Calvin Ridley has stepped into the number 1 receiver spot capably.

The Bucs have a lot to be positive about even if the latest narrative is suggesting a team that packs no real punch. Defensively they’re solid, and there are suggestions that their star studded but maligned offense will find its ideal rhythm just in time for the playoffs are there, even though leading rusher Ronald Jones misses this due to Covid-19 protocols. The Bucs need 2 out 3 wins to secure the playoffs, the Falcons will be motivated to play spoiler, Morris to end the season strongly to secure the gig. Two experienced QB’s will find ways to make plays, and in the 2020 season of high scoring, the total seems reasonable enough.

Match Odds – Falcons (43/20), Bucs (2/5)

Tip – Over 50.5 points at 10/11

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Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills 

The Bills are timing their run well, three wins in a row, including a major primetime win over the Steelers putting them in the box seat for the AFC East. Josh Allen will be facing a Denver D banged up at cornerback, and he should make hay with Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley the key beneficiaries. Allen’s dual threat capabilities can kick start things on the ground too, even if his supporting cast of running backs aren’t really at the level they need to be.

As per PFF, Allen has the highest QB rating in the NFL when not under pressure, and to have any chance Denver will need it’s front seven to limit the exposure of the secondary. But even if they do, Drew Lock (13 INT in 10 games) will struggle against an improving Buffalo D, and whilst Denver may have some success on the ground, they’ll be too one dimensional to keep this one particularly close.

Match Odds – Denver (9/4), Bills (4/11)

Tip – Buffalo -6 at 10/11