Is Seahawks’ new-found underdog status evidence of perceived vulnerability?

The Seahawks are officially underdogs against the Rams — or they are as of Wednesday, anyway.

By Bob Condotta

The Seattle Times

The betting lines for this weekend’s NFL games are beginning to settle in and the Seahawks continue to be listed as an underdog for Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. kickoff against the Los Angeles Rams.

They are not much of an underdog— 1.5 points is the consensus on

And given that homefield advantage is generally considered to be worth three points, taken at its most literal, that means the Seahawks are considered 1.5 points better than the Rams with LA getting the bump for being at home.

Still, the Seahawks are officially underdogs against the Rams — or they are as of Wednesday, anyway.

It’s the first time Seattle has been an underdog against the Rams since 2011, or before Russell Wilson became the Seahawks’ quarterback.

Seattle was favored in the second of two games against the Rams in 2011 and for all 10 games the teams have played the past five seasons.

Even more telling is that this is already the third time this season the Seahawks have been an underdog — that matches any regular season since 2012, the year Wilson arrived.

Seattle was also a three-point underdog in its opener at Green Bay and a 2.5-point underdog at Tennessee. Seattle lost each of those games both straight-up and against the spread and actually started out 0-3 against the spread before covering Sunday against the Colts.

Betting lines are obviously important mostly to those who may be interested in them for whatever reason.

But betting lines are also an intriguing view into how teams are perceived by those on the outside.

Seattle was an underdog in six of the first eight of the 2012 season as Wilson took over and the Seahawks as we know them began to evolve.

But as people realized that the Seahawks were becoming legitimately good, the Seahawks were an underdog in just one game the rest of 2012 until the playoffs, when Seattle was also an underdog in the divisional playoff game at Atlanta.

Seattle has rarely been an underdog in the regular season since.

According to the Marc Lawrence yearbook, the Seahawks were an underdog in the regular season just once in 2013 (at San Francisco, a game they lost 19-17), just once in 2014 (again at San Francisco, a game Seattle won 19-3), three times in 2015 (at Green Bay, Cincinnati and Arizona, Seattle going 1-2 straight-up in those games) and just twice last season (at Arizona and at New England, games in which the Seahawks tied and won).

Seattle has also been an underdog in four playoff games since 2012, all on the road or the Super Bowl (the one against Denver — the New England game was officially a pick ‘em).

Add that up, and Seattle was an underdog in the regular season just eight times since the mid-point of the 2012 season through the end of 2016 — a span of 72 games (the Seahawks going 4-3-1 straight-up and 6-1-1 against the spread in those games).

But this year, Seattle has been an underdog three times in five games already.

Is that a sign of the Seahawks’ perceived increased vulnerability?

Certainly could be. Almost no one a month ago would have figured the Rams to be favored over Seattle — listed the Seahawks as a six-point favorite in early lines last April — with the line having shifted the way it has due to the way each team has played so far.

Seattle’s schedule is such that the Seahawks could still be favored in most of the games it plays the rest of the way — the Christmas Eve game at Dallas seeming the most likely game in which Seattle will be an underdog.

But as we’re seeing, the perception of this team appears to be evolving as it has staggered out of the gate.

Sunday in Los Angeles will be a chance to show that maybe things haven’t really changed all that much.