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@FastMoneyLabs' Monday Night Football Best Bet - 9/12

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks

78% of spread tickets are on the Broncos tonight. Here’s why I’m fading the public and backing Seattle:

  • Pro Football Focus (PFF) and Football Outsiders (two independent organizations) each have the fair line for tonight’s contest at +/- 5.7, nearly a full point below market.
  • The difference is likely driven by public interest in the Russell Wilson return to Seattle narrative.
  • There was a similar situation yesterday when Baker Mayfield took on the Browns, and we saw how that went for him…
  • Mayfield had the benefit of facing his former team at home. Wilson isn’t as lucky, with tonight’s contest taking place at Lumen Field in Seattle, widely regarded as one of the loudest stadiums in the country.
  • Wilson reaped the benefits of the Seahawks’ outsized home-field advantage and ‘12th man’ fan base for years. Now he’s the enemy.
  • The Broncos’ main advantage on paper for tonight’s contest relates to defense; however, their top linebacker Josey Jewel has officially been ruled out, and starting edge rusher Randy Gregory is questionable to play.
  • Looking at offenses, PFF projects a balanced matchup, with Denver and Seattle offenses ranking 17th and 19th, respectively, entering Week 1. Which begs the question: is this Russell Wilson narrative really worth a point to the line?
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I’m splitting these next stats out, since they ultimately led me to bet:

  • Seattle is 16-8 (66.7%) Against-The-Spread (ATS) as a Home Underdog under HC Pete Carroll,.
  • When getting 3 points or more, the hit rate improves to 11-1 (91.7%) ATS since 2011.
  • Russell Wilson’s departure throws a wrinkle in the trend, but importantly, his replacement, Geno Smith, has the 4th best lifetime cover % among active QBs. His 19-13-1 (57.5%) ATS record as a starter comes out to a 57.5% cover rate, +5.8% better than Wilson.
  • It feels like a small sample size at just 33 games, but in the context of football, it’s more than two full seasons worth of data.
  • This tells me that betting markets are consistently undervaluing Geno Smith, and it’s a trend I’m eager to exploit this season until the market catches up.

Week 1 Underdogs are also 46-28 (62.2%) ATS when getting 6.5 or more points since 2005 (source: Action Network). Yesterday, they were 3-1 in this spot, as the Bears, Texans and Steelers all covered touchdown or longer spreads (two won outright, one tied). The only miss was at the hands of the lowly Jets, who failed to cover vs. Baltimore.

It’s not the most comfortable bet to place given the public narrative, but I feel it’s the right one to make. I’m taking the points.

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