Seahawks at Panthers Picks and Week 1 NFL Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/20/2013
There are a few really good matchups in Week 1 of the upcoming season. Certainly the Baltimore-Denver opener is chock-full of storylines. Just seeing New England's first game at Buffalo is worth monitoring to see how the Patriots will respond to all the body blows they have taken this offseason. Atlanta-New Orleans is for an early upper hand in the NFC South. Packers-49ers is probably the best game of them all. I could go on. But the one game I am most interested to see, outside of my own team's, is Seahawks-Panthers. Why? I think this could be an NFC Championship Game preview.
That Seattle might make the NFC title game wouldn't be a shock. They were the team no one wanted to face at the end of last season. I'm still not sure how the Seahawks lost in Atlanta in the divisional round. Well, I do know how: Their defense inexplicably allowed two long Matt Ryan passes with seconds remaining to get the Falcons in position for a game-winning 49-yard field goal. Atlanta had blown a 20-point fourth-quarter lead, so you could argue it deserved to win.
As for Carolina, the Panthers were widely expected to be a playoff team last year off a strong finish to 2011. However, the sophomore slump hit Cam Newton -- a chic preseason NFL MVP choice -- and Carolina started 2-8. Then things seemed to click, and the Panthers closed by winning five of six, including an impressive win over the Falcons. That turnaround almost assuredly saved coach Ron Rivera's job. I think the Panthers will be more like that team that finished the season than began it. Newton suddenly has been overshadowed by other young QBs, and that will drive him.
Seahawks at Panthers Betting Story Lines
Did any good team improve more than the Seahawks this offseason? They traded for the play-making receiver they lacked in Minnesota's Percy Harvin and signed one of the best defensive ends (Cliff Avril) and cornerbacks on the market (Antoine Winfield). This team is stacked. Now, if the Seahawks can just stop getting caught using PEDs. Stud defensive end Bruce Irvin was the latest, and he will miss the first four weeks. He had eight sacks as a rookie in 2012.
My biggest concern for Carolina is at receiver. Steve Smith is still pretty good, but he's 34. Brandon LaFell will start opposite Smith, and he's serviceable but nothing special. After that it's the likes of Dominik Hixon and Ted Ginn. Greg Olson is a very good receiving tight end. I was a bit surprised the Panthers didn't address receiver in free agency or the draft. Former quarterbacks coach Mike Shula is the new offensive coordinator with Rob Chudzinski now the head coach in Cleveland. It's supposed to be a more conventional attack. The Cats were stunned that Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei dropped to them at No. 14 overall in the draft, so they pounced. Carolina definitely should have a very good front seven, but the secondary is “iffy”.
These teams played at Carolina last year, a 16-12 Seahawks victory. The Panthers were one-point favorites with the total at 42.5.It was not a pretty offensive game. Russell Wilson hadn't yet found his groove for the Seahawks. He completed 76 percent of his passes in the game but had two picks, including one returned for a touchdown -- Carolina's only TD. Newton had the worst game of his career to that point, going 12-for-29 (3-of-15 in first half) for 141 yards and no scores. Carolina was held to 190 total yards. Irvin had a huge play in the game, causing a Newton fumble late when the Panthers were attempting to drive for a potential winning score.
Seahawks at Panthers Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, the Seahawks are three-point favorites with a total of 45.5. Seattle was 11-5 ATS last season (4-4 on road) and 8-8 “over/under” (4-4 on road). The Seahawks' 11 ATS wins tied for the most in the league. Carolina was 9-7 ATS (3-5 at home) and 9-7 O/U (4-4 at home). Carolina is familiar with being exactly a three-point dog as it was four times in 2012. The Panthers covered all four. Seattle was a three-point favorite or less four times in the regular season and was 1-3 ATS.
Seahawks at Panthers Picks and NFL Week 1 Betting Predictions
Wilson was ridiculously good last season after a terrible game on Oct. 18 at San Francisco in which he was 9-for-23 with a pick and 38.7 rating. Then the light came on. However, he was a vastly different player on the road. While Wilson had a 123.6 rating at home, it was 83.1 away from Seattle, and eight of his picks were in road games. Newton, meanwhile, had better road splits than at home.
They always say that it's wise to pick against West Coast teams when they have to travel East and play a 1 p.m. game. I do tend to subscribe to that theory. But not in the opener, when Pete Carroll can have his guys' body clocks ready. While WagerWeb has this game at three, BetOnline had it 3.5. Anything over three I do like the Panthers. Anything under I'd go Seattle. Love the under total.
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