NFL Preview & Pick — NFC Playoffs: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (1/17)
The Seattle Seahawks got a reprieve last week up in the bitter cold of Minnesota, as a missed field goal on the part of the Vikings enabled them to move past the wild-card round, where they will get to face the #1 seed in the conference, the Carolina Panthers. This game will take place at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, beginning at 1:05 PM ET, and while BetAnySports customers are watching it on Fox they can engage in lively in-game wagering through the state-of-the-art software available from Live Betting Extra.
The Seahawks (11-6 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) were positively non-offensive for three quarters against the Vikings, then Russell Wilson made a miraculous recovery on an errant snap, with a big pass to Doug Baldwin that got them in a position for a touchdown. They overcame a 9-0 deficit, and the chip-shot field goal by Blair Walsh at the end sailed left. So here they are.
The Panthers (15-1 straight-up, 11-5 against the football pointspread) secured the top seed with a win over Tampa Bay in the final week. They had previously gone to Seattle and staged an artful comeback in the final four minutes, with Cam Newton leading two touchdown drives that shocked the Seahawks 27-23 at Century Link Field.
These teams also met in last year’s playoffs, and the game was tight until Seattle’s Kam Chancellor picked off Newton and went 90 yards for a touchdown in a 31-17 victory that advanced the Seahawks to the conference title game.
In the reduced juice NFL betting odds on this game, as posted at BetAnySports, the Panthers are short favorites at home:
Carolina Panthers -2 (-107)
Seattle Seahawks +2 (103)
Over 43 points -105
Under 43 points -105
Marshawn Lynch is expected to be in the lineup for the Seahawks, even though there was a false alarm last week when he did not get on the plane to Minneapolis after going through many practices. Lynch averaged only 3.8 yards per carry this season, and it remains to be seen how much of a workload he’ll have. The comfort to the Seahawks is that he probably won’t have to take the burden on himself, because Christine Michael has done well for this team over the past four weeks (4.9 yards a pop).
Russell Wilson did not have a good game last week, completing only half of his 26 throws, but you have to consider that game an aberration because of the incredibly uncomfortable conditions it was played in. But in the final seven games of the regular season, while Lynch was out with his abdominal injury, Wilson threw for 424 touchdowns with only one interception, so there is no question about who the focal point of this offense is. You know, the Seahawks were fifth in the league in points generated on a per-drive basis, and they were held to a three-and-out only 19% of the time, which means that they have some success moving the chains. Obviously, a 46.5% success rate on third-down would attest to that.
BetAnySports patrons may not realize this, but when Wilson is targeting Baldwin, his top wide receiver, he is 80% accurate. Baldwin has 14 touchdowns on the season, and Jermaine Kearse and rookie Tyler Lockett have another eleven between them. Also, Seattle has turned the ball over only 16 times on the season, which may bother a Carolina squad that has feasted on opponents’ miscues.
What is truly amazing about the Seahawks is their defense on the road of late. First of all, on an overall basis they led the league in points allowed for the fourth straight season, and yield fewer touchdowns per drive than any other team. In their last six games on the road, five of which were football pointspread covers, they have allowed exactly ONE offensive touchdown. Also, the opposition has gained a total of slightly more than 1200 yards over those six games. So clearly this is a team that isn’t affected at all by being a visitor.
That kind of effectiveness on the stop end, along with their playoff experience, quite obviously, bode well for Seattle in this game. A lot of the smart money is going for the Seahawks, and we may go in that direction as well, because, well, we consider ourselves to be smart.
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