Free Expert NFL Picks: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/7/2015
The biggest upset in NFL playoff history was Super Bowl III when Joe Namath famously led the AFL's Jets over the powerhouse Colts of the NFL. Probably the second-biggest was when the 18-0 Patriots were stunned by the wild-card Giants in Super Bowl XLIII -- the game of David Tyree's incredible helmet catch (the last catch of his NFL career).
Carolina going to Seattle and upsetting the defending Super Bowl Champions on Saturday night won't be a bigger upset than those two, but it would have to be the biggest this decade and perhaps belong on any Top 10 overall list. However, bad news for the Panthers: Since the playoffs expanded 12 years ago, five previous teams that finished the regular season at 8-8 or worse have reached the divisional round. All five lost by at least 11 points. The last was the 2011 Denver Broncos, quarterbacked by Tim Tebow. They upset Pittsburgh in the wild-card round but then were slaughtered 45-10 in New England. Thus ended Tebow's NFL relevancy.
Seattle is the Bovada favorite at -130 to win the NFC and +200 to repeat as Super Bowl champion. The site also has a "yes/no" will win Super Bowl prop on the Seahawks (and a few other teams but not Carolina), and they are -260 not to win it. Predictably, Carolina is the site's NFC (+1400) and Super Bowl (+2800) long shot.
Panthers at Seahawks Ravens at Patriots Betting Story Lines
To tell you how bad of shape the Arizona Cardinals' offense was behind overmatched quarterback Ryan Lindley heading into last week's game in Carolina, the 7-8-1 Panthers were 5-point favorites. Carolina won easily 27-16. That Panthers defense held Arizona to an amazing 78 total yards (12 in the second half), the fewest ever in an NFL Playoff game. Lindley was a laughable 16-for-28 for 82 yards with a TD and two picks while being sacked four times. If that guy ever starts an NFL game again, that team's head coach needs to be fired immediately.
Cam Newton wasn't great for Carolina, going 18 of 32 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed seven times for 35 yards and appeared to tweak his surgically-repaired ankle. The Panthers have won five straight because of their defense, which was obvious vs. Arizona, and their running game. Jonathan Stewart has really exploded of late while finally getting healthy. He rushed 24 times for 123 yards and a score vs. the Cards. It was his third game with at least that many yards during the winning streak.
Two injuries to note for Carolina. Receiver Philly Brown suffered a shoulder injury against Arizona. The undrafted rookie out of little Wofford (only Wofford player on an NFL roster) had three catches for 37 yards in the game. He's not a huge contributor, but receiver is a very thin position on Carolina. The much bigger issue is to starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. NFL.com is reporting he fractured his foot during practice Tuesday and is out. He had a largely disappointing season after a stellar rookie year, but Lotulelei has come of late with 11 tackles and two sacks in his last two games.
Seattle, which has won six straight games by an average score of 22-7, has the NFL's top rushing attack, so that injury could be a major problem for the Panthers. Obviously the Seahawks are pretty healthy now after getting last week off. Center Max Unger will be back after he missed six games with an ankle injury. Also back will be receiver Jermaine Kearse and cornerback Tharold Simon, who each missed Week 17.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson knows Carolina probably better than any team outside the NFC West as Wilson is 3-0 against the Panthers, leading comeback wins in each of the past three years -- all in Charlotte. In Wilson's rookie year, Seattle won 16-12. His 13-yard TD pass to Golden Tate late in the third quarter put Seattle ahead for good. Last year in Week 1, Seattle won 12-7. Wilson had 320 yards passing and hit Kearse for the winning 43-yard score with 10:21 left in the game. Newton threw for only 125 yards in that one. In Week 8 this season, the Seahawks won another slugfest 13-9. Wilson was held to 199 yards passing but hit Luke Wilson on a 23-yard game-winning pass with 47 seconds left. Newton was only 12 of 22 for 171 yards and a pick.
Bovada's "over/under" passing yards for Wilson in this one are 210.5, with both at -115. Newton is at 199.5, with both at -115. Wilson and Newton are two of the best running QBs in the NFL, and Bovada offers a prop on which has more rushing yards in the game. Wilson is -4.5 yards (-115). In this year's game, Wilson had 35 on the ground and Newton 24. However, Newton is averaging 56.2 rushing yards during the current winning streak.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks NFL Divisional-Round Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Seattle is a 12-point favorite (+110) with alternate lines of 11.5 (+105), 11 (-102), 10.5 (-110), 10 (-120) and 9.5 (-130). The Seahawks are -525 on the moneyline and Panthers +415. The total is by far the lowest of the weekend at 39.5. Carolina is 9-8 against the spread this season (4-4 on road) and 9-8 O/U (6-2 on road). Seattle is 9-6-1 ATS (5-2-1 at home) and 8-8 O/U (4-4 at home).
Carolina is 5-1 ATS in its past six road playoff games. The Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their past five road games vs. teams with a winning home record. Seattle is 4-1 ATS in its past five playoff games. The over is 5-0 in Carolina's past five against teams with a winning record. The under is 14-6 in Carolina's past 20 vs. the NFC. The under is 5-1 in Seattle's past six overall. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks Betting Prediction
Looking at the past three results from these teams, how can you not go under the total even as small as it is? That Lotulelei injury is a major problem for Carolina. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch tends to up his game in the playoffs. He had 100-yard games in both NFC playoff matchups last year before being somewhat quiet in the Super Bowl blowout.
So the question isn't who will win because Seattle is going to. How many points to give? I like how Carolina matches up overall against Seattle -- power against power. So I'm taking the 12. The Cats should be able to lose by 10 or fewer. I like Newton on the rushing prop but under on both guys' passing yards.
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