What Was the Betting Line on the Seahawks vs. 49ers Game on Oct. 22?

On October 22nd, the Seattle Seahawks played the San Francisco 49ers in a game that was sold out at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium. The betting line opened with the 49ers favored by 3.5 points and was eventually set at -1.5 points. The game was tied 10-10 at halftime before the 49ers pulled away in the third quarter and eventually won 17-10.

What Do We Know About the Game?

We know the Seahawks are a great football team and we know the 49ers are a good football team. On paper, the matchup was a good one. The question is: Where did all the betting action go?

Overall, pre-game betting activity on the Seahawks was down about 5%. Post-game betting activity was also down slightly, about 4%. So in the end, the betting public just did not believe the Seahawks were going to beat the 49ers, as evidenced by the small spreads and large point totals. In fact, in 2017 the public was right about 85% of the time when betting on the NFL.

Why Were The Spreads So Small?

When you look at the spread between the two teams, you have to assume that the football public was either very unafraid or very confident that the 49ers were going to beat the Seahawks. That can’t be said about the matchup. The public may have thought that the game was close, but the betting lines made it clear that the public wanted to lay the smackdown on the home team.

The fact that this game was played in Santa Clara, California, is also interesting. The 49ers are a lot more popular in San Francisco than they are in Santa Clara. That’s not just due to the fact that they’re the hometown team, but it’s also because people in San Francisco are more familiar with, and probably respect more, the San Francisco 49ers than they do the Seattle Seahawks. Could it be that the fans in San Francisco simply did not want to see the Seahawks beat the 49ers?

Why The Underdog Appeal?

In most sports, you have favorites and underdogs. In an effort to understand why the betting public did not see the Seattle Seahawks as the superior team in this matchup, let’s take a brief look at some of the more prominent factors at play.

First, the Atlanta Falcons were in town that day and the betting public was very keen on the home team. In this case, the Falcons are an underdog by default as they did not win the divisional round. The point is that in the majority of situations, the team which is the underdog is typically considered to have a distinct advantage over the favorite. This is mainly due to the fact that the favorite is generally considered more prominent and is usually associated with more success than the underdog team. This theory is backed up by empirical data as well. For example, as an understudy in the social sciences, we can examine the 2018 NFL draft and see that the teams picking in the middle and later rounds have a clear preference for the underdogs. This is true even when controlling for a variety of factors, including record, head to head, and strength of schedule. This finding is also consistent with prior research.

One of the more interesting aspects of the 2018 NFL draft is that the underdogs were successful in a number of ways. First, they exceeded expectations by becoming a surprise story in the playoffs. Second, several of the underdogs went on to become starters or key contributors on winning teams. Finally, a number of the underdogs were able to parlay their success into lucrative careers as NFL agents or football writers. So, while the teams picking in the first three rounds did not perform too well in terms of selecting players who would ultimately contribute much to their teams, the underdogs picked much higher up were able to find success in the 2018 NFL draft.

How Is The Season Rating For The 2018 NFL Draft?

The overall season rating for the 2018 NFL draft was 45.76% with a 72.21 rating for the first round and 38.93% for the second round. Both rounds had a rating below 50%. The third and fourth rounds had a rating of 55% or above. This trend should not come as a huge surprise as the third and fourth rounds are traditionally considered the strength of the draft. Additionally, the first three rounds are mostly made up of prospects who are seen as can’t-miss or two-way players, while later rounds are generally considered to be filled with late-round fliers and/or prospects who might have a longer development time.

2018 NFL Draft: Which Rounds Produced The Most Success?

Looking only at the 2018 NFL draft and not the entire 2018 season, the evidence suggests that the second round was king. First, take a look at this year’s draft pick order. The Rams placed the second overall pick in the first round and selected quarterback Sam Darnold from USC. The following were the picks after Darnold:

  • RB David Montgomery from Iowa
  • WR CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma
  • RB Devin Singletary from Wisconsin
  • QB Josh Allen from Wyoming
  • LB Mack Wilson from Alabama
  • CB Greedy Williams from LSU
  • RB Saquon Barkley from Penn State

The next five picks were taken within the next 20 picks, with the next notable selection being Boise State RB Joe Mixon. Overall, 22 of the first 32 picks, or 69%, were selected within the next 20 picks. This is an extremely strong performance for the second round and provides further evidence that teams and coaches value this round highly.

Why Are The Second And Third Rounds Considered To Be Such Powerful Rounds?

Generally speaking, rounds two and three are the most productive rounds in the NFL draft. Looking at the history of the NFL draft, the second and third rounds have produced a lot of starting quarterbacks, a lot of All-Pro selections, and a lot of Super Bowl champions. Additionally, many of the top quarterbacks in NFL history were chosen in these two rounds, including Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, and John Elway. One of the more prominent recent examples is the 2017 NFL draft when the Los Angeles Rams made the unusual decision to pick up the second overall selection and take a quarterback. Although they did not ultimately start a single quarterback that season, the selection of Sam Darnold turned out to be a very good one. Overall, 27 of the first 32 players (84%) selected in the first two rounds are still playing or have played in the NFL in some capacity. This is quite an impressive statistic, especially since this was the first time in recent memory that a quarterback was selected in the first round instead of the second.

Will The Underdog Phenomenon Continue In 2019?

Based on the first four months of the 2018 season, the answer would seem to be yes. After all, it was mostly underdogs that had a successful 2018 season. Some of the more prominent underdogs in the NFL this year include the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Philadelphia Eagles. These are all winning teams and it is clear that the public had plenty of confidence in the underdogs this year.

Additionally, several of the playoff teams from last year’s Super Bowl were underdogs this year as well, including the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. One of the reasons these two teams were underdogs is that they were replacing star players with backups and rookies. This should come as no surprise as experience typically pays off in the NFL and teams are often reluctant to give up on their success. The fact that these two teams were not only the favorites in their respective conferences but also had a combined record of 54-20 indicates that the underdog has firmly planted its flag in the sand this year. Or as the saying goes, the rest of the NFL better watch out.