The Seattle Seahawks look to move one step closer to making it back to the Super Bowl this afternoon. Conversely, you have a Panthers team who is trying to ensure that this season doesn’t go to waste. After a 15-1 season, failing to get out of the Divisional Round, not even winning a single playoff game, would end up resulting in a bitter feeling. They nearly pulled off a perfect season, but the Atlanta Falcons were able to knock them off late in the year. Perhaps it was a good thing that the Panthers got that loss out of the way before proceeding into the postseason. This goes for Cam Newton, too. After such a great season, a loss here would be a tough pill to swallow for him. This could even be an MVP season for Newton. No playoff win to show for it wouldn’t look nearly as impressive. He’ll just be known as the guy who lost to Russel Wilson in the playoffs after a 15-1 season. While the Panthers had a week off on the bye, the Seahawks survived in epic fashion, as the Vikings missed a chip shot at the end of regulation.
It wasn’t only the missed chip shot. The biggest play of the game came on a fire drill for Russel Wilson. Wilson, with the ball rolling behind him after an early snap by the center, gathered the ball and fired to a wide open receiver in the middle of the field. The Seahawks ended up scoring on that drive, and the game complete went in the other direction following that play. They even were the beneficiaries of an Adrian Peterson gift off a fumble, which resulted in more points for the Seahawks. The Vikings played about as good as they could have. All Blair Walsh needed to do was hit that field goal, which amounted to less than an extra point, and we wouldn’t be talking about the Seattle Seahawks right now. Vikings fans, needless to say, are going to be shell-shocked about that series of events for a pretty long time. The Seahawks needed to endure the interception on the goal line, and now the Vikings had to suffer through that. The sting of that loss hasn’t subsided for Seahawk fans and I am sure it won’t for the Vikings.
The Panthers are going to be going into this game relatively healthy on offense. Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Bene Benwikere, though, will be out for the Panthers. That leaves two of their top three corners injured heading into this matchup against the Seahawks. The passing game has opened up for the Seahawks in the second half of the season, so we’ll see how the Panthers handle it without Tillman and Benwikere. The scene will be set for the NFC and AFC Championships following today. The Cardinals and Patriots have already punched their tickets. We will see who marches on today.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers NFL Divisional Round Betting Odds:
vs. Panthers +2.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Seahawks vs. Panthers Pick:
On paper, this looks like the closest matchup of the weekend. I think by game time you will see even action on both sides. There are reasons why the Seahawks can win this game, and there are reasons why the Panthers can win this game. On the Panthers side of the ball, you have a team who has lost only once all year. Cam Newton has passed for 3062 yards and 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also rumbled for 480 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Panthers and Newton did all of this without their number 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin. He got injured all the way back in August and the Panthers’ season looked doomed. Not the case as we have witnessed. The Panthers averaged 31.2 points per game this season and were 11th in the league in yardage per game. The rushing game, thanks to Cam’s running abilities, set the Panthers as the 3rd best ground team in the NFL. However, the Panthers will be up against the 2nd best overall defense in the league, as well as the 1st rush defense.
Against the Vikings, the Seahawks allowed only 183 yards. They rushed for only 58 yards with Adrian Peterson and they threw for just 125 yards. The offense was out of sync, but the Seahawks catch a mulligan after the blown chip shot. We’ll see if they look out of sync again this Sunday. The Panthers own the 6th best defense in the NFL, allowing 19.6 points per game. However, like I said, they will be without 2/3 of their best cornerbacks. Wilson wasn’t great last week, maybe he is in store for a big game this weekend. In any case, this is a matchup where you have to take the points. The Seahawks have been here before and excelled. They dodged a big bullet last week and should be able to take advantage of their chance at a second life.
PICK: SEAHAWKS +2.5 (-110)