Two inconsistent teams square off Sunday in Carolina as the Seahawks travel east to take on the Panthers. It’s a huge NFC clash for both teams with realistic playoff hopes. Can Cam Newton shake his apparent sophomore slump? Can Russell Wilson rebound after a pathetic Week 4 outing? We’ll find out which team shows up come Sunday.
Carolina is coming off a heartbreaking loss last week against the Falcons, but showed glimpses that this is a team that can play with any squad in the league. Cam Newton remains inconsistent in his second NFL season, but is helped with one of the game’s premier rushing duos in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Moving the ball against a stout Seattle defense however, won’t be easy. The struggling Panthers defense will need to come up with key stops and try and slow down the powerful Marshawn Lynch. Carolina enters this contest potentially without key defensive players, Jon Beason and Chris Gamble. Both are listed as doubtful and have yet to practice all week.
The Seahawks looked dismal last week against St. Louis. Coming off an undeserved win against the Packers in Week 3, Seattle couldn’t carry the momentum of their gifted victory and now sit at 2-2 entering this crucial battle. One key concern at the moment with Seattle has to be the play of their rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson. Wilson was picked off three times against the Rams in Week 4, and chatter is growing that the higher-paid Matt Flynn may replace him if his game doesn’t improve. Against an ailing Panthers defense, it’s now or never for the Seahawks attack.
Seahawks vs. Panthers Spread & Betting Odds:
Seattle Seahawks +3 (-120)
@ Carolina Panthers -3 (+100)
Over 43.5 (-110)
Under 43.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Seahawks vs. Panthers Pick:
This should be an intriguing game since it’s such an important one for both teams. Seattle and Carolina had playoff aspirations entering the season, and a loss here would make the road to the post-season an uphill battle. It should be a tale of opposite approaches on Sunday as well. The Panthers can move the ball with ease, as Newton, Steve Smith, Williams, and Stewart are all talented offensively. But they’ll be hard pressed to score against a solid Seattle defense that pursues the quarterback like no other team in the NFL. On the other sides of the ball, Seattle’s attack is sputtering with no passing game to speak of. They’re solid on the ground however, but look for Carolina to load the box in an attempt to minimize the effectiveness of Lynch.
Overall, expect this contest to be a sloppy one with field position battles ruling the day. I can’t see either offense having too much success in this game, and though Carolina has an injury-riddled defense, Seattle’s offense is not the team to take advantage of that weakness. Passing attacks will be a rarity as well, meaning lots of running plays from both teams will make this a quick contest, killing clock time.
The Under 43.5 points seems like solid value here. Despite Cam Newton’s elusiveness and pure athletic ability, the Seahawks’ front-four is ferocious and will disrupt his rhythm on offense. Russell Wilson meanwhile seems in over his head at the moment. With Seattle playing their second straight road game, and having to travel out to the east coast, don’t expect a crisp outing from Pete Carroll’s squad. Seattle is always a playoff team at home, but when they take to the road, they appear out-of-sync. Look for gridlock throughout this contest, with both offenses struggling to put points on the board. Running plays, and clock management will be imperative in this one. The Under should hit in a close one in Carolina.
PICK = Under 43.5 (-110)