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A look at NFL handicapping with the PFW editor lobbying to become Las Vegas bureau chief.

49ers favored in opener at Seahawks

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Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Mike Wilkening

The 49ers are a popular pick to win the NFC West, as executive editor and division expert Dan Arkush pointed out recently. And indeed, San Francisco is the pick to win the West in the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly 2010 NFL Preview magazine.

And the Niners are being treated like a division-title contender by Nevada oddsmakers, who have installed them as a slight favorite vs. Seattle. The Niners are favored by 2½ points by four sportsbooks whose line movements are tracked at VegasInsider.com, and Las Vegas Sports Consultants, Inc. also has San Francisco favored by that many points after opening the game a pick 'em. The Niners are three-point favorites at the Leroy's sportsbooks in Nevada, per VegasInsider.com. The line is lower at other places; for instance, the Niners are favored by just 1½ at Pinnacle, according to VegasInsider.com. But at a majority of sportsbooks, San Francisco is a road favorite.

The Niners were 5-3-1 against the spread as favorites in 2009. They were road favorites twice, covering and winning when laying 7½ points in the season finale at St. Louis but ... drum roll ... losing 20-17 as one-point favorites at Seattle in Week 13.

The win would be the Seahawks' final of the season, and they were awful in losses to Houston, Tampa Bay and Green Bay in Weeks 14-16. Overall, though, the Seahawks remained formidable at home, at least from a handicapping perspective, covering in five of eight games.

At first glance, this looks like a game I'll pass upon when making my Week One plays for my ProFootballWeekly.com handicapping column. But I'll be interested to see where the line will settle. Does it land in the 2-2½-point range, or is three the number?  I don't see the Niners as a slam dunk in this game, but it is not as if the Seahawks inspire a lot of confidence, either. Seems like a three-point, coin-flip grinder to me.

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