NFC West Notebook
August 13, 2014
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2013 Record: 13-3
Postseason: Super Bowl Champs
OFF YPG: 339 (18th)
Def YPG: 274 (1st)
OFF PPG: 26.1 (9th)
Def PPG: 14.4 (1st)
2014 Total Win Analysis - LVH Total Win Opening Line: 11
After winning 13 games en route to its Super Bowl run in 2013, the Seahawks are well-equipped to make another run at a title and we see no reason to predict fewer than 11 wins in 2014 - take the OVER. The Seahawks still have the best defense in the NFL, featuring arguably both the top defensive line and top secondary. Offensively this team was anything but explosive in 2013, but QB Russell Wilson managed games well Seattle trotted out a bruising running attack. They'll still have a strong running game, and now they added some weapons to the receiving arsenal. Most notably is a healthy Percy Harvin, who missed nearly all of last season. The schedule will be difficult. The first three weeks feature games against three playoff teams: Green Bay, San Diego, and Denver; the last of which was Seattle's Super Bowl opponent. Along with playing six games against arguably the toughest division in the NFL, the Seahawks will play games @Carolina, @Kansas City, and @Philadelphia. It's not going to be an easy road, but we still expect the best team in football to exceed 11 wins.
-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 11-5, 6-10
-- The Seahawks were tied for the top ATS record in 2013 with the Arizona Cardinals, both notching 11-5 ATS records.
-- Since 2011, Seattle has the top overall ATS record with a 35-17-1 ATS mark (67.3%).
-- Arguably no team has had more of a home field advantage than Seattle as the Seahawks are 39-20-1 ATS (66.1%) at home since 2007. That includes a 24-12 ATS record (66.7%) as a home favorite.
-- Conversely, they are just 26-33-1 ATS on the road, ranked 30th in the NFL.
-- Though they likely won't be underdogs many times this year, the Seahawks have enjoyed lots of success in that role over the past three years. They've gone 17-6-1 ATS (73.9%) as a 'dog since 2011, the top mark in the NFL.
-- Seattle has covered six straight meetings against the 49ers, including all three games last year (including playoffs). The 'Hawks are also 3-0 SU & ATS in the last three home meetings with the Niners, winning by an average of 20.3 PPG.
-- The 'OVER' is 13-7 in the last 20 meetings with Arizona. Seattle is just 2-6 ATS in the last eight trips to Arizona.
-- The last eight meetings with St. Louis have all finished 'UNDER' the total (averaging just 29.1 PPG). The Seahawks are 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings with the Rams, including 6-1 ATS at home over that span.
Player & Team Notes
-- Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary was the best in the NFL last season, holding opponents to just 172 pass YPG (1st), 5.8 YPA (1st), 16 TD (2nd), 28 INT (1st), and a 63.4 opponent passer rating (1st).
-- Their rushing defense wasn't far behind, as they allowed just 101.6 rush YPG (7th), 3.9 YPC (7th), and 4 total rushing TD (1st).
-- Lost WR Golden Tate in free agency, who led the team with 64 receptions for 898 yards and 5 TD last year. A healthy Percy Harvin, further growth from Jermaine Kearse & Doug Baldwin, and the emergence of a couple talented rookies - Paul Richardson & Kevin Norwood - will aid in Tate's absence.
-- Red Bryant, Sidney Rice, Brandon Browner, Chris Clemons, Walter Thurmond, Chris Maragos, and Breno Giacomini are a few of the veteran leaders that were let go this offseason. Clemons and Bryant are the two players that Seattle will miss most. Luckily the Seahawks have built arguably the most defensive line depth in the NFL.
-- Marshawn Lynch ended his training camp holdout after eight days. Lynch has averaged 1,350 yards and 11+ TD per year since 2011 with the Seahawks and will be the workhorse back yet again for the 'Hawks.
-- Projected starting TE Anthony McCoy tore his achilles in training camp and will miss the entire 2014 season. Zach Miller and Luke Willson (combined 53 rec. for 659 yards and 6 TD last year) will fill in for McCoy.
San Francisco 49ers
2013 Record: 12-4
Postseason: Lost to Seattle in NFC Championship, 17-23
Off YPG: 324 (24th)
Def YPG: 319 (7th)
Off PPG: 25.4 (11th)
Def PPG: 17 (3rd)
2014 Total Win Analysis - LVH Total Win Opening Line: 10.5
The 49ers have tallied a 36-12 regular season record over the past three years, exceeding 10 wins in each season. However, we are favoring a slight fade on San Fransisco in 2014 and recommending a play on the UNDER 10.5 wins. A couple of key injuries and a potential suspension are really going to challenge the 49ers depth this season. All-Pro LB Navorro Bowman will miss most, if not all, of the 2014 season after suffering a knee injury in last year's playoffs. Fellow All-Pro LB Aldon Smith will likely be suspended for a good portion of the season. Two injuries aren't insurmountable, but those two players are a major reason why San Fran has ranked at the top of all major defensive categories over the past few seasons, and they'll be missed greatly. Looking at the schedule, there are no "easy" wins through the first nine weeks: @DAL, vs. CHI, @ARI, vs. PHI, vs. KC, @STL, @DEN, vs. STL, @NO. St. Louis is the only squad in that group that didn't finish with at least a .500 record (they finished 7-9 and figure to be greatly improved in 2014). After that the schedule lets up a bit, but still includes two games against defending Super Bowl Champ Seattle in the final five weeks. With a brutal schedule and questions of depth on the defense, we don't see the Niners exceeding 10 wins this season.
-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 11-5, 8-8
-- The Niners are 1st in the NFL with a 52-31-5 ATS (62.7%) record since 2009.
-- That includes the best mark both at home (26-14-2 ATS, 65%) and on the road (24-16-2, 60%) since 2009.
-- As a favorite, San Francisco is 27-14-1 ATS (65.9%) since 2011, the third best percentage in the NFL. That record improves to 10-4-1 ATS (71.4%) as an away favorite since 2011.
-- San Fran is 14-6-1 ATS (70%) against AFC teams since 2009, the 2nd best interconference record over that span.
-- San Francisco is 0-6 ATS in the last six against Seattle, including 0-3 ATS last year alone. The Niners are 0-3 SU & ATS in the last three trips to Seattle, losing by an average of 20.3 PPG.
-- San Fran is 12-7 ATS in the last 19 meetings against the Rams, including 2-0 last year. The Niners are 6-3 ATS at home against STL over that span.
-- The 49ers won and covered both meetings against Arizona last year and are 9-2 SU & ATS in the last 11 meetings with the Cardinals.
Player & Team Notes
-- SF finished 4th against the rush, 7th against the pass, and 7th in turnover differential. It'll be a major test for this defense to repeat that success with all the turnover on the defensive side of the ball.
-- As mentioned above, 3x All-Pro LB Navorro Bowman will likely miss the majority of the season as he recovers from a knee injury. Fellow All-Pro LB Aldon Smith (42 sacks in three seasons) likely faces a significant suspension for his transgressions in the offseason.
-- In addition to the starting defenders above, losing DT Glenn Dorsey (injured in training camp), SS Donte Whiter (free agency), CB Tarell Brown (free agency), and CB Carlos Rogers (free agency) mean its major turnover from 2013 to 2014 on the starting defense.
-- They brought in CB's Tramaine Brock & Chris Cook and SS Antoine Bethea in free agency and drafted FS Jimmie Ward to aid the losses in the secondary.
-- QB Colin Kaepernick had a decent season, throwing for 3,197 yards (58.4%) for 21 TD and just 8 INT. San Francisco attempted the fewest passes in the NFL last season, something that was allowed because they had such a dominant defense and were normally in the lead. It'll be interesting to see how Kaepernick and this offense respond if forced to air it out more.
-- They had the 3rd most rushing attempts, averaging 137.6 rush YPG (3rd) on 4.4 YPC (9th) with 18 TD (4th). Frank Gore is aging and Kendall Hunter (injury) and Anthony Dixon (free agency) are not with the team. That means extended carries for rookie Carlos Hyde and 2nd year man Marcus Lattimore.
2013 Record: 10-6
Postseason: No Playoffs
Off YPG: 346 (12th)
Def YPG: 317 (5th)
Off PPG: 23.7 (16th)
Def PPG: 20.2 (7th)
2014 Total Win Analysis - LVH Total Win Opening Line: 7.5
Arizona was arguably the best team to not make the playoffs last year, finishing with a equal-or-better record than three of the participants (both NFC & AFC), missing out because New Orleans (11-5) and San Francisco (12-4) finished ahead of them. While we don't expect them to repeat their 10 wins from 2013, we do expect them to finish at least .500, meaning a play on the OVER here. The defense took a big hit when they lost both starting inside linebackers, Karlos Dansby to free agency and Daryl Washington to suspension; both of whom are former All-Pro performers. Still, the defense expects to be formidable without them with a strong line and one of the top secondaries in the NFL. The offense will not be great, but will be good enough to compete on a week-to-week basis. Looking at the schedule, the Cards open and close with two very difficult stretches, with a forgiving middle. The first four games are difficult (vs. SD, @NYG, vs. SF, @DEN) but not as difficult as the final six (@SEA, @ATL, vs. KC, @STL, vs. SEA, and @SF). They won't repeat 10 wins, but there's enough talent to reach .500.
-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record:11-5, 8-8
-- Arizona is 10-5-1 ATS (62.5%) as a road team over the past two seasons, the 2nd best mark in the NFL over that span.
-- The Cards are an impressive 16-8 ATS (66.6%) as a home underdog since 2007. Keep an eye on the lines when San Francisco and Seattle come to town for a favorable situational play on Arizona.
-- Arizona is 3rd in the NFL in non-division games with a 13-6-1 ATS record (68.4%). The only two clubs with a better percentage are San Fran and Seattle.
-- Sixth highest percentage of 'UNDER' games since 2009 at 53.8%. That percentage grows to 58.5% 'UNDER' in away games since 2009.
-- The Cards lost failed to cover both meetings against San Fran last year and are 2-9 SU & ATS in the last 11 meetings with the Niners.
-- The 'OVER' is 13-7 in the last 20 meetings with Seattle. Arizona is just 6-2 ATS in the last eight home games vs. the 'Hawks.
-- In the last 13 games against St. Louis, the Cards are 9-4 ATS (5-2 ATS at home). The 'UNDER' is 9-4 in those meetings.
Player & Team Notes
-- ILB's Karlos Dansby & Daryl Washington were arguably the best ILB tandem in the NFL last season. They combined to finish with 197 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 30 passes defended, 6 INT, and 2 TD. Replacing them will be veteran Larry Foote and 2nd year man Kevin Minter.
-- Watch out for a huge season from RB Andre Ellington as many fantasy experts favor him as a breakout candidate. He tallied 652 rushing yards (5.5 YPC) and 371 receiving yards on 39 catches for 4 total TD in his rookie season.
-- There have been ongoing rumors that the team is shopping star WR Larry Fitzgerald. One major reason for that is the emergence of Michael Floyd. Floyd finished with 1,054 receiving yards (16.0 average) with 5 TD. As a duo they form one of the top receiving tandem in the NFL.
-- Carson Palmer is back for another season as a starter. Palmer finished with 4,274 pass yards with 24 TD and a troubling 22 INT (T-2nd worst in the NFL). Palmer is what he is at this stage in his career and you can almost expect equal bad with the good.
-- One area of weakness was turned into a mild strength this season as the Cards picked up LT Jared Veldheer in FA and LG John Cooper returns from an injury that kept him out all of last season.
-- The pass defense that ranked 14th in the NFL last season only figures to be better. Patrick Peterson is one of the top three CB's in the league and they added Antonio Cromartie in FA. They also get FS Tyrann Mathieu back from injury and add 1st round draft choice SS Deone Bucannon in the fold.
St. Louis Rams
2013 Record: 7-9
Postseason: No Playoffs
Off YPG: 305 (30th)
Def YPG: 345 (15th)
Off PPG: 21.8 (21st)
Def PPG: 22.8 (13th)
2014 Total Win Analysis - LVH Total Win Opening Line: 7.5
Interesting here that St. Louis' total is set higher than the amount of games won last year, especially in the NFC West with a quarterback who hasn't exactly been the model of consistency. QB Sam Bradford was on his way to a career year (14 TD, 4 INT, 60.7%) before sitting out the final nine games with a knee injury. Bradford returns to a team brimming with youthful talent, but there are still enough problem areas on the depth chart, as well as a difficult schedule that we recommend a play on the UNDER. The front seven on defense is arguably the best in the NFL, but the secondary - outside of CB Janoris Jenkins - is an absolute disaster. The offensive line is stout, but the WR corps is untested and could lead to yet another erratic season from Bradford. The opening three game stretch on the schedule is maneageable (vs. MIN, @TB, vs. DAL), but after their bye in week four, the next eight games are an absolute nightmare: @PHI, vs. SF, vs. SEA, @KC, @SF, @ARI, vs. DEN, @SD. Seven of those eight opponents were in the playoffs last year - Arizona is the lone outlier and they finished 10-6. After that they still have to face Arizona and travel to Seattle among the final five games. The schedule looks too treacherous to bet on a .500 finish or better for these Rams. Take the UNDER.
-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 7-9, 9-7
-- The Rams rank 31st in the NFL since 2003 in overall ATS record with just a 78-98-3 ATS mark (44.3%). Only Oakland is worse.
-- Only the Seahawks have a worse road record over the last decade as the Rams rank 31st with a 39-51 ATS (43.3%) record.
-- The Rams are also just 53-66-1 ATS (44.5%) as an underdog since 2003, ranked 30th in the NFL.
-- They've been a home underdog nine times over the past two seasons, marking a respectable 6-3 ATS record over that span.
-- Playing in the NFC West, the Rams have the worst division record in the NFL, covering just 26 of 67 games (39.4%).
-- In the last 13 games against Arizona, the Rams are 4-9 ATS (2-5 ATS on the road). The 'UNDER' is 9-4 in those meetings.
-- St. Louis is 7-12 ATS in the last 19 meetings against the San Francisco, including 0-2 ATS last year. STL is 3-6 ATS visiting SF over that span.
-- The last eight meetings with Seattle have all finished 'UNDER' the total (averaging just 29.1 PPG). The Rams are 4-10 ATS in the last 14 meetings with the 'Hawks, including 1-6 ATS visiting Seattle over that span.
Player & Team Notes
-- Sam Bradford was on his way to a career year (14 TD, 4 INT, 60.7%) before sitting out the final nine games with a knee injury. There's optimism despite the fact Bradford is 18-30-1 as a starter in his career. Over his four years, Bradford's passer rating of 79.3 ranks 29th in the NFL among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 500 passes.
-- For Bradford to succeed, he'll need better play from his wideouts. TE Jared Cook led the team in receptions last year with 51. WR's Tavon Austin and Brian Quick, who are in their 2nd and 3rd year, respectively, need to step up. The team also brought in Kenny Britt from Tennessee.
-- St. Louis was 3rd in the NFL with 53 sacks last year, led by 19 from DE Robert Quinn. Quinn, Chris Long, Kendall Langford, and Michael Brockers form the NFL's top defensive line. And STL added top DT Aaron Donald to the fold with the 13th pick in the draft. This unit is scary good.
-- Outside of Janoris Jenkins, this secondary is a major concern. Opposing QB's completed 68.1% against the Rams last year, tied for worst in the NFL, and the 8.1 yards per attempt was the worst.
-- The Rams ranked 9th against the run in 2013 as they allowed just 102.9 rush YPG on 3.7 YPC. They did, however, allow 18 rushing TD, tied for 27th in the NFL.
-- RB Zac Stacy had a terrific 2nd half of the season in his rookie year. Stacy tallied 625 rush yards and 7 TD over the final eight weeks of the season. Stacy will be the featured back in STL this season and coaches are expecting a huge year from the young back.
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