Of all the intriguing matchups for NFL 2015 Week 5, Seattle Seahawks at Cincinnati Bengals (-3; 44) promises to be the game to decide two divisions and Super Bowl contention. If the Bengals win, barring a major injury, then the other teams in the AFC North are essentially playing for a Wild Card spot.
This win would put the Bengals at 5-0 and potentially 3 games ahead of the next team, if the Pittsburgh Steelers lose this week. Cincinnati has to keep pace with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, when it comes to playoff home-field advantage in the AFC.
With the Seahawks having represented the NFC in the past two years, this is the Bengals' first true test for that next level. The prior wins -- all AFC contests -- have determined whether they should be in this discussion.
This game decides whether or not they remain a viable threat to play in the Super Bowl. For Seattle, sleep time is over. The Seahawks have been sleepwalking through the season like a team that ate too much of a carb-filled meal.
So far, nothing has knocked the chip off their shoulder, the one they think guarantees them another Super Bowl appearance. To their defense, the Seahawks have not had a reason to wake up. Yes, they faced the Green Bay Packers earlier this season. In all honesty, that game meant much more to Green Bay and the late game execution confirms this.
Seattle has taken two early season losses in stride and they've turned it on against two underwhelming teams. The two wins were at HOME and the two losses AWAY.
Today's game: AWAY. It is also the first inter-conference game for both teams. It is not a game that one can say defense will matter more than offense, and vice versa.
This will simply be a hitting game, a playoff level intensity that the Bengals have faced twice this season -- San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens. Both times, the Cincinnati Bengals got off to early scoring starts and held on for victories. A better way of framing it: the Bengals play all four quarters; the Seahawks, not so much.
At the end of the day, it comes down the passing game. Which quarterback will have more success? More precisely: can Russell Wilson expose what has been the Cincinatti Bengals weak spot?
I rarely call PUSH but with the line at -3 and a game likely to be 27-24. Which team do you think wins by a Field Goal?
I have the numbers as Seattle (.737) to win by 7 points, and the Bengals (.263) to win by 2 points.
Under those terms, I take the Seahawks (Over 44).
Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and Enjoy this playlist/mix.