By Mike Wilkening
Cold, Hard Football Facts Oddsmaking Analyst (@mikewilkening)
The Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers in their home opener on Sunday night. Some readers may well have taken out their wallets after seeing the words “Seahawks” and “home.”
We don't blame you.
Taking the Seahawks to cover at CenturyLink Field has been a spectacular strategy for quite some time.
Since 2005, and counting both regular-season and playoff games, Seattle is 47-20-1 against the spread at home (70.1 percent).
In seven of the last eight seasons, a flat bet on every Seattle home game would have returned a campaign-ending profit. The lone exception was in 2008, when Seattle slipped to 4-12 straight-up in Mike Holmgren’s final season on the sideline and was just 3-4-1 ATS at home.
Even in 2009, Jim Mora Jr.’s lone season, Seattle proved a solid bet at home, covering in five-of-eight games in a forgettable 5-11 campaign.
However, the Seahawks have taken their home success to another level in Pete Carroll’s tenure as head coach.
In 24 regular-season games at home under Carroll, the Seahawks are 18-6 (.750) against the number. Seattle also covered and cashed on the money line as 10-point home underdogs against New Orleans in the 2010 wild-card round. Add it up, and Seattle has covered at a 76 percent rate in home games of consequence in Carroll’s time on the job.
(The Cold, Hard Football Facts' new Intelligence Index indicates that coaching has been critical to this success: the Seahawks were the "smartest" team in football in 2012, based upon their performance in situtational football. They enter Week 2 No. 9 on the indicator.)
For as well as the Seahawks have fared at home, however, they have not taken care of business away from Seattle. The Seahawks have not posted a winning straight-up road record since 2005, when they won five-of-eight away from CenturyLink Field en route to Super Bowl XL in Detroit.
Their lack of road success has generally extended to the pointspread, too. The Seahawks were just 35-45-3 (.438) ATS as visitors under Holmgren — and six of his teams from 1999-2008 made the playoffs.
As bad as that seems, the Seahawks’ road ATS woes would only grow worse under in the lone season under Mora (1-7 vs. the number) and in Carroll’s first campaign (2-7 in 2010).
However, things began to change in 2011. The Seahawks failed to cover in their first two away games of the campaign, but they were 4-1-1 ATS in their final six games as vistors. Overall, the Seahawks would record a 10-5-1 mark vs. the number in 2011.
In last week’s column, we mentioned that clubs that covered 10-plus regular-season games in one campaign usually struggled to come close to notching as many pointspread victories the next season.
Well, the 2012 Seahawks were an exception to that rule. The Seahawks covered 11 regular-season contests a season ago — a feat made possible by a sterling 7-1 ATS mark at home, but also by covering four road games.
Moreover, Seattle earned pointspread victories in both 2012 postseason games — the straight-up win at Washington in the wild-card round and the narrow two-point defeat (but cover) at Atlanta in the divisional playoffs.
Since the beginning of calendar year 2013, Seattle has yet to fail to cover in any game — playoff, exhibition or regular-season. Indeed, the Seahawks are 7-0 against the number in 2013, including an ATS sweep of the preseason slate for the second consecutive year, according to Covers.com records. In Week One, they prevailed 12-7 at Carolina as three-point favorites.
Let’s suppose you resolved in the summer of 2012 to simply bet the Seahawks at every turn, no matter the game. Including exhibition games, you would have won 22-of-28 bets, with one push. That’s a success rate of 81.5 percent, which is unbelievable for a pro football club.
It’s also likely to be unsustainable over the long term, as the seasoned grizzled pointspread historians among us know.
Nevertheless, it’s been a quite a ride, one without any bumps whatsoever to this point in 2013. Anyways, the Seahawks are three-point favorites at Nevada sportsbooks on Sunday night against San Francisco . . . and it’s OK if you have to be going now to attend to some important business. We understand.
Note: Pointspread data from 2003-2012 is from Marc Lawrence's 2013 Stat and Log Book. All pre-2003 pointspread data is from Jim Feist's 2008 Football Notebook.