Let's get straight to the point - the Carolina Panthers had no business getting into the playoffs with a losing record. They also were trailing at half to an Arizona Cardinals team that was playing with a third string quarterback and using running backs they found off the street. Now they go into Seattle trying to knock off the defending Super Bowl champs. It won't happen. This will be a game at halftime, and it'll be low scoring but the second half is where things will get out of hand.
There is a trend with the Seahawks and they seem to settle for field goals in the first half and turn things on offensively and defensively in the second half. In their final 6 games of the season Seattle outscored their opponents 85-13, and won all 6 games. In those 6 games, the team averaged 170 yards per game on the ground. On the defensive side of the ball in those 6 games, Seattle sacked the opposing quarterback 24 times and allowed just 3 total touchdowns, while forcing 10 turnovers.
It seems like Seattle's gamplan is for Russell Wilson to wear down the defense in the first half using his arm and legs, and then letting a fresh Marshawn Lynch deliver the knockout blow late in the game. The Seahawks defense just wears down the opposing offense all game long with big hits and turnovers and frustrated them to no end as they defend the pass and run so well.
Carolina turned it over last week against the Cardinals 3 times and if they do that against Seattle, they're going to get embarrassed and run out of the building. Cam Newton will really have to turn into Superman if the Panthers want any real shot at winning this game. Not only will he have to deadly accurate with his passes (last week he constantly missed open receivers) but he'll have to outdo Russell Wilson with his legs, making big plays on the ground.
I do not have much faith in Jonathan Stewart this week despite him playing so well to finish the season. It's hard to find running backs with great success against this Seattle front 7.
Can Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen get open against Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and the rest of Legion of Boom? I'm not too sure about that. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Michael Bennett and the rest of the crew will make it their mission to slow the Panthers run game and get after Newton.
I can see the Panthers leading at halftime 10-6, but Seattle will pull away in the second half.
Give me Seattle -11.5 and the over of 39.5
Prediction - Seattle 27 Panthers 13
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Cowboys @ Packers
Colts @ Broncos