Seahawks vs. Panthers: A Bettor’s Guide


The Seattle Seahawks managed to blow yet another fourth quarter lead last Sunday in Cincinnati – this one a 17-point cushion – and fall to 2-3 on the season.

The one and only silver lining in what was otherwise a disgusting afternoon was being gifted a push in our weekly wager of Bengals minus three points. Woop-de-doo.

Had an end zone official known what the rule for batting a ball out of the end zone was, we’d be talking about the Seattle Seahawks giving away fourth quarter leads in five of their last six games played, dating back to February. It is incomprehensible considering the way this team is supposed to be built and functioning – as a physical group that wears down their opponent and ultimately takes control of the game in the last stanza.

The exact opposite is happening on the field, however, and the million dollar question is “why?”

(Raises hand)

I believe it has everything to do with an inferior offensive line (though it admittedly cobbled together its best game of the season to date last week) that exerts its will on no one, complicated further by the absence of Marshawn Lynch and his ability to punish would-be tacklers.

Seattle used to deploy ruffians at the line of scrimmage like Breno Giacomini to play through the echo of each whistle and butt up against the line of fair play in some way on nearly every snap. James Carpenter isn’t very good, but he’s huge and not fun to run into 60 times a game. Lynch, of course, seeks out contact and by the second half leaves defenses wanting to do just about anything else on earth except deal with that human sledgehammer again.

But that was then, and free agent defections are a necessary evil for every NFL team seeking continuity in their roster. Today, other teams salivate at the thought of going around and through less daunting humans like Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, and Garry Gilliam. Even Russell Okung is playing uninspired football – in a contract year, no less. Lynch has been out of the lineup more than in it this year, and though Thomas Rawls is acquitting himself very well at running back, it is a very different style of ground game without 24 back there. A far less scary one.

Last week, when the Cincy fans made a little noise and the Bengals defense raised their level of effort a couple notches, it was up to the Seahawks offense to merely match the intensity and make a play – just ONE play – to ice the game. Instead, they crumbled under the moderate amount of pressure placed on them by the opponent, and eventually gave away a game they had no business losing.

It was reminiscent of the teams under Mike Holmgren. Coach’s offenses were always good, but the defense and the team overall was very much a soft one – admit it. It was the kind of team that couldn’t win consistently on the road in hostile environments because it lacked the grit to overcome disadvantageous situations. The Cincinnati game felt that way – you could see it slipping away, and no one wearing a Seahawk helmet seemed strong-willed enough to do anything about it.

Still not over the loss, attention must now be turned to this week’s opponent, the Carolina Panthers.

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The line on this game is currently at Seattle -7 with an over/under of 40.5. The line started out at 5.5 points, but the early betting is on the Seahawks to bounce back and take care of the undefeated first place Panthers.

Carolina comes into the game relatively healthy off their bye (get used to that – Seattle’s schedule is chock full of teams coming off their bye or extra rest, and no other team comes close to having to deal with similar circumstances. I’m sure it’s just a mere coincidence and not a ploy by the league to attain parity).

Seattle, on the other hand, has half their defense listed as “questionable” coming in. Wagner, Hill, Clark, Pierre-Louis, Dobbs, and Tye Smith are all iffy or worse. If they take the field without Wagner and Hill in the middle, it could be a long day. This game is going to be won or lost by Seattle’s ability to get their defense off the field when it’s third and short with timely stops, and it will be third and short a lot in this game.

Carolina’s offense is led by Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, and nobody else worthy of mention. They do not put up a lot of yardage, but score just often enough to win games. Newton has thrown seven touchdown passes and run for two more TD’s – the only rushing touchdowns the team has. If Seattle can’t devise a way to keep this lackluster offense to a point total well below 20, it’s going to be a long season.

Defensively, the stingy Panthers allow less than 18 points per game and feature two bright stars – MLB Luke Kuechly, who is healed up from concussion symptoms just in time for this week’s game, and CB Josh Norman, who has two pick-sixes on the year already.

Outside linebacker Thomas Davis, who has come back from what seems like a hundred knee surgeries, is possibly playing at the highest level of his career – a testament to his unwavering will and determination. He’s a great story, and I wish him all the best starting Monday. Rounding out the LB’s is rookie Shaq Thompson, the UW alum who has proven to be well worth his first round draft status to this point.

Seattle needs to attack Carolina’s safeties in this game – especially 74-year-old FS Roman HarperTyler Lockett in space downfield vs. Harper is something I want to see exploited more than once on Sunday.

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Breaking down the turning point in Seattle Seahawks fourth-straight loss in Week 14
Breaking down the turning point in Seattle Seahawks fourth-straight loss in Week 14 /

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  • So how will the game script actually play out? I think it will be an ugly, punt-filled affair early, with both teams trying to establish advantageous field position throughout the first half while playing close to the vest. More field goals than touchdowns and a lot of underwhelming fantasy football stats.

    I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Seahawks played well enough to cover the spread, but they’re going to actually have to do it before I let go of my skepticism. This looks like a team that’s laboring very hard and just not finding any answers on offense that they can rely on week in, week out.

    Maybe the return of Marshawn is the magic elixir?

    Defensively, they’re banged up and probably exhausted from carrying the team for the last couple years. Injuries are catching up to them. Do they have enough left in the tank to make another run? If they do, it has to start with a win this Sunday, as they’ve used up almost all their duds for the year already.

    Ultimately I believe Carolina’s hot start is mainly attributable to inferior competition and their lack of quality offensive weaponry around Newton will be their downfall in this game. It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty, but Seattle will use home cooking to grind out a win against the Panthers.

    Prediction: Seattle 19, Carolina 13.

    Wager: 75 credits on the UNDER (40.5), 25 on Carolina +7

    Season to Date: -100 credits