Wildcard Weekend comes to a close with the final NFC game on Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks for a late-afternoon kickoff. Sports Handicappers originally sent out Eagles -1 but money came in on the visitor and has flipped this spread to Seahawks -1.5.
If you’re betting on the NFL odds for the NFC Wildcard Round, here are the angles and edges to factor into your handicapping.
Wentz a winner
Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz finally gets a postseason start after missing the Eagles’ past two playoff runs due to late-season injuries. Wentz looks to be up to the challenge, playing fantastic football to close out the regular season and lifting Philly to the top of the NFC East thanks to a four-game winning streak to close out the schedule.
Wentz finished December with a 99.3 passer rating, completing 66.3% of his passes for more than 1,500 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception. What’s more impressive is that he was able to post these strong numbers despite missing key receivers throughout the final month of the season.
He faces a Seahawks defense that failed to slow down passing attacks, giving up 264 yards through the air per contests, which ranks 27th in the league. Seattle was able to get to Wentz three times in their Week 12 win over the Eagles but finished the season with only 28 sacks on the year. The Eagles gave up just nine sacks on Wentz in December.
Injuries played a huge role in the Seahawks’ slide at the end of the season, most notably in the rushing ranks where Seattle lost its top two running backs and was forced to bringing in free agents and former backs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin.
The ground game isn’t the only piece missing bodies, unfortunately. The Seahawks are very thin at receiver with Malik Turner out and Jaren Brown listed as questionable. Seattle lost Josh Gordon to suspension a few weeks back, and that has left the passing game to lean on inexperienced targets in the biggest game of the year.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has felt that pinch, with his numbers dropping in December. He’s completed only 62% of his passes for just 6.4 yards per attempt – more than a yard less per pass before that final three weeks.
The offensive line has also been in shambles down the stretch, which has led to eight sacks in those final three games. That lack of protection has also limited the amount of gains Wilson has produced with his legs, rushing for 29 yards in the Week 17 finale but posting gains of two yards and -1 in the two games prior.
The Over/Under betting total for the NFC Wildcard game between Seattle and Philadelphia is sitting at 45 points for Sunday. The Eagles are 8-8 Over/Under on the season but 2-6 Over/Under at home. Seattle, on the other hand, owns a 8-7-1 Over/Under record with a 4-4 O/U mark as a visitor.
These teams played Under the 45.5-point total back in Week 12 with a 17-9 Seattle win, and have gone Under the total in four straight meetings going back to 2014.