by Liev Jackson
Seahawks: 11-6 SU,8-8-1 ATS
Panthers: 15-1 SU,11-5 ATS
When: 1:05 PM ET, Sunday, January 17, 2016
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
It is often said that the Super Bowl is not really all it’s cracked up to be and that somewhere along the playoff line the best game is played beforehand.
The Seattle Seahawks taking on the Carolina Panthers certainly has all the makings of that kind of game.
For one thing these teams have played each other five times in the last four years including in this spot last year in the playoffs.
In each of those games Seattle was the clear favorite and in each of those games they emerged victorious –until this year.
The first three were defensive struggles that took place in Carolina. The most points scored by the winning side was 16. The last two were played in Seattle and the winners scored 31 and 27 points respectively. Go figure.
That is especially true this year as Newton has emerged as the complete package in leading his team to a 15-1 record and is the likely MVP winner. While all Wilson did in the last seven weeks of the regular season was throw 24 touchdowns with one interception to go along with a 71.6 completion % and a 130.3 QB rating. Those are video game type numbers.
Last week Seattle pulled a rabbit out of its hat. In the frigid cold of Minnesota they were trailing 9-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The game changed on two keys plays that went in the Seahawks favor.
The first was a botched snap to Wilson at the Minnesota 39 that went all the way back to the Seattle 45. For most other quarterbacks would have meant a 16 yard loss and he managed to escape and turn it into a 35 yard gain that led to the only touchdown on the day. The second was when Minnesota kicker pooched a 27 yard field goal on the last play of the game.
But when you’re the two time defending NFC champion and your quarterback has a 7-2 all-time playoff record these things tend to happen in your favor.
Earlier this year when Carolina escaped Seattle with a 27-23 victory that win was almost as improbable.
In that game midway through the fourth quarter Seattle was winning 23-14 and had a 98% win probability. But Newton’s MVP candidacy really took off with what he did on the Panthers next two possessions.
In the first possession he led them 80 yards down the field with a series of quick strikes scoring in just over four minutes.
They got the ball back with 2:29 to go at their own 20 and in two minutes he had them back in the end zone after another 80 yard drive. In both drives the killer play was a long pass to Newton’s favorite target Greg Olsen.
The Panthers scored so quickly that the game was still in doubt as Seattle got the ball back with 29 seconds left, but the Panthers defence held up and didn’t let Seattle advance past their own 30.
As such this game features two of the very best offences and defences in the league.
Carolina was #1 in scoring with 31.3 P/G and Seattle tied for 4th at 26.4 P/G. They were also second and third in terms of rushing yards per game (142.6 and 141.8).
Defensively Seattle finished first in terms of points allowed (17.3 P/G) and second in terms of yardage (291.8 Y/G). Carolina was sixth in both categories (322.9 and 19.3 P/G).
Against teams with winning records Seattle went 3-4. The four losses came in the first ten weeks and three of them involved losing fourth quarter leads. The three wins all came in the last six weeks. The average score was 30-23.
Carolina went 4-0 against teams with winning records, the last of those games in week 11 vs. Washington (when the Redskins still had a losing record). The average score was 33-21.
Both teams have high impact players on defence. Seattle has LB Bobby Wagner, S Kam Chancellor, CB Richard Sherman, DE Michael Bennett among others. Carolina has LB Luke Kuechly, LB Thomas Davis, CB Josh Norman and DE Jared Allen.
On offence besides their electric quarterbacks they feature a cast of wide receivers that are not considered among the best of the best, but who certainly have played their way to excellence all year. And in Marshawn Lynch and Jonathan Stewart you have two bruising backs fighting their way through injuries to make it back for this game.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers Odds & Betting Lines
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In their last action, Carolina was a 38-10 winner at home against the Buccaneers. They covered the -10-point spread as favorites, while the combined score (48) was profitable news for OVER bettors.
Last time out for Seattle, they were a 10-9 winner as they battled the Vikings on the road. The Seahawks failed to cover in the match as a -4.5-point favorite, while 19 combined points moved the game UNDER for totals bettors.
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Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers NFL Betting Odds & Trends
Seattle is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games
Seattle is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Seattle's last 5 games
Carolina is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games
Carolina is 15-1 SU in its last 16 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina's last 7 games
Pittsburgh home to San Francisco Sunday, September 20
New England at Buffalo Sunday, September 20
The Bottom Line: Newton is only 1-2 all time in the playoffs, with the one win coming against a Cardinals team last year with Ryan Lindley at QB. I don’t think that matters one iota, but I do expect this game to come down to the last possession and with the spread at -3 a push seems highly likely. However if you’re looking for one team to pick, when push comes to shove I think Carolina wins, but doesn’t cover. The Pick: Carolina 28-27.
Liev NFL Prediction: Carolina -2½ at MyBookie
bobby wagner - cam newton - carolina panthers - de jared allen - greg olsen - jonathan stewart - josh norman - kam chancellor - luke kuechly - marshawn lynch