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September 30, 2014

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Week 14 NFL picks against the spread for the Sun’s handicapping contest

49ers, Seahawks are the league’s two most profitable teams to bet on

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick smiles in the locker room after the NFC Championship playoff game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Atlanta. The San Francisco 49ers won 28-24 to advance to Super Bowl XLVII.

Emblazoned across Colin Kaepernick’s chest in black ink are three words — “Against All Odds.”

Sun's NFL betting game of week 14

Which team would you bet in Seattle at San Francisco?
Seahawks +3 — 60.7%
49ers -3 — 39.3%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The UNR graduate says the tattoo represents his rise to the NFL, not necessarily what the third-year quarterback has done since getting there. That’s reassuring, because there would be no reason to graffiti a torso with a message that’s wholly inaccurate.

For an astounding 19th time in 23 career starts Sunday in San Francisco, the odds are in Kaepernick’s corner. Las Vegas sports books favor his 49ers by 3 points over the Seattle Seahawks in a game with a 1:25 p.m. kickoff.

It’s one of the biggest clashes of the week and the most popular in the Sun’s NFL handicapping contest as all three sports writers used one of their six picks — available at the bottom of the page — on the NFC West grudge match.

Perhaps no quarterback in NFL history has given points as regularly as Kaepernick in his first season-and-a-half worth of games. At least no one in recent memory.

Kaepernick’s Madden-camping, eyebrow-gambling rival can’t even claim the same level of clout with oddsmakers. In two seasons as Seattle’s starter, Wilson has been the favorite in 68 percent of his games as opposed to Kaepernick’s 82 percent.

Wilson has logged eight more starts, in fairness, but that’s the only thing that’s helped him catch up. Wilson gave points in 15 of his first 23 games, for comparison’s sake.

He covered in the two instances that mattered to Kaepernick, though. The Seahawks have beaten the 49ers by a combined 71-16 in their past two meetings, covering the spread by an average of 25 points per game.

Both of those wins came at CenturyLink Field, however, where Wilson and the Seahawks are 14-0 straight up and 11-3 against the spread over the past two seasons. The franchise hasn’t found nearly as much success at Candlestick Park, a venue Seattle surely won’t miss when San Francisco moves 50 miles southeast next season.

The Seahawks have gotten outscored a combined 109-54 in their past four trips to face the 49ers, covering only once during the span by a half-point in last year’s 13-6 defeat.

But these Seahawks are a step above the 2012 faction. They became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff berth by blasting the New Orleans Saints 34-7 as 6-point favorites on Monday Night Football last week.

Seattle, 11-1 straight up, is threatening to become one of the best teams ever tracked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, in which it ranks first by a relatively wide margin this season.

Wilson has staked his claim as the best of the quartet of first-year starting quarterbacks — also including Kaepernick, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Washington’s Robert Griffin III — who led their teams to the playoffs last season. He’s sixth among quarterbacks in DVOA despite missing his presumed top two receivers, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, for the majority of the season.

Seattle’s troubles away from home could also be overstated. Since coach Pete Carroll arrived four years ago, the Seahawks are 16-16 against the spread on the road.

But by the same token, San Francisco’s home dominance could be understated. The 49ers are 19-5 straight up and 17-7 against the spread at Candlestick under coach Jim Harbaugh.

While Seattle is in a four-way tie — with Dallas, Arizona and Carolina — for the second-most profitable team to bet on this season, San Francisco rests alone in first at 9-3 against the spread.

At 8-4 straight up, the 49ers are clinging to a one-game lead in the NFC wild card standings. Football Outsiders calculates San Francisco’s playoff odds at 76.7 percent, a figure that could plummet to below 50 with a loss.

A defeat would mathematically eliminate the 49ers from winning the NFC North, which Football Outsiders gives the Seahawks a 98.8 percent chance of winning anyway.

Kaepernick is unbothered by borderline unconquerable adversity. Advanced metrics put him right behind Wilson in the aforementioned group of young passing sensations, as the tattooed defensive-terror is 12th in quarterback DVOA. He’s gone 15-7 against the spread as a starter.

Change “against” to “beaten” on his chest piece and the art would come closer to depicting his NFL tenure to this point.

Check below for all of this week's contest picks. Games are listed in order of their sports book rotation number.

 

Case Keefer (2012 champion)

Record: 37-40-1 (1-5 last week)

Vikings plus-7 at Ravens

Colts vs. Bengals over 43

Buccaneers minus-2.5 vs. Bills

Rams plus-6.5 at Cardinals

Chargers minus-3 vs. Giants

49ers minus-3 vs. Seahawks

 

Ray Brewer

Record: 34-40-4 (3-2-1 last week)

Colts plus-6.5 at Bengals

Saints minus-3 vs. Panthers

Steelers minus-3 vs. Dolphins

Rams plus-6.5 at Cardinals

Seahawks plus-3 at 49ers

Bears minus-1 vs. Cowboys

 

Taylor Bern

Record: 35-41-2 (2-3-1 last week)

Colts plus-6.5 at Bengals

Lions plus-3 at Eagles

Buccaneers minus-2.5 vs. Bills

Chargers minus-3 vs. Giants

Seahawks plus-3 at 49ers

Cowboys plus-1 at Bears

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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