Week One NFL Prediction and Preview: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Odds courtesy of Bovada
Seattle finished 11-5 last season and enters this year with high expectations from fans league-wide. The team won on the road in the playoffs in 2012, and the hope is that this year they can solidify home field advantage to avoid even having to do so. The Seahawks have a great ball carrier in Marshawn Lynch and an able QB in Russell Wilson, and they are guided Pete Carroll, who has had great success in his first few seasons as coach.
Wilson last year matched Peyton Manning’s rookie touchdown record (26), and he was a surprise to say the least. Selected outside of the first round, Wilson led the Seahawks to back-to-back 50-point games in December, and though the Seahawks were a run-heavy team, Wilson enabled them to open it up and experiment a little more.
While Wilson’s success was outstanding, the pressure will be high on a second year quarterback and Carroll is hoping he is able to handle it. To further add to defense’s problems, the Seahawks added one of the best wide receivers in the game in Percy Harvin, who will return from injury in two to three months. With a healthy Harvin to air it out to, and Lynch on the ground, defenses will have to pick their poison.
Carolina is a team desperate for success. The team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008 and it won just seven games last year. The Panthers landed an elite QB in Cam Newton, and he’s thrown for nearly 8,000 yards combined in his first two NFL seasons. The team, however, is just 13-19 over that span and last year Newton threw for just 141 yards against the Seahawks while completing just 12-of-29. Newton’s problems will be compounded by RB Jonathan Stewart being out, and DeAngelo Williams will try to shoulder the load.
What keeps the Panthers competitive is a good and underrated defense. The Panthers had the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in Luke Kuechly and the rookie was phenomenal after replacing Jon Beason at middle linebacker last year. The team allowed 333.1 yards per game last year (10th in the NFL), and Kuechly’s emergence will enable Beason to shift to the outside, as a measure to try to keep him healthy.
The weak spot in the defense is the secondary, which is a real problem against the Seahawks, and it’s not as though they really prefer that Seattle keep the ball in Lynch’s hands either. Expect the Seahawks’ plethora of options to be enough to enable the narrow victory prognosticated by NFL oddsmakers.
4-0 ATS in last 4 road, UNDER 6-0 last 6 Sept games, 6-1 ATS in last 7 vs NFC
4-0 ATS in last 4 overall, 0-4 ATS in last 4 in Wk 1, OVER 4-0 in last 4 vs NFC