2015 NFC Divisional Playoffs
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Washington
Saturday, January 10, 2015, 8:15 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Opening Line: Seattle -11 1/2 (-105)
Current Line: Seattle -10 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 40 1/2
Current Total: 39 1/2
Opening Money Line: Seahawks -555 / Panthers +470
Current Money Line: Seahawks -600 / Panthers +450
The defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks appeared to suffer the hangover that a lot of Super Bowl winners have the next season. The Seahawks started off the season with a very lackluster 3-3 record. However, the Seahawks have gone 9-1 since then including a current 6 game winning streak. Seattle won the NFC West title with a 12-4 record and clinched the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. After a first round bye, the Seahawks will take on the NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers in the divisional playoffs Saturday night. Carolina was only 7-8-1 in the regular season but the Panthers did beat the injury depleted Arizona Cardinals 27-16 last week in Charlotte in the NFC Wild Card playoffs. The winner between the Seahawks and Panthers will face either the Green Bay Packers or Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game next week.
Since 2004, Seattle leads the series 6-1 against Carolina. The Seahawks have won 4 straight games against the Panthers, including 13-9 in Charlotte earlier this season. The past 3 meetings have been very low scoring with no more than 28 points combined between the teams in each game and each contest was decided by 5 points or less. Seattle beat Carolina 34-14 in the 2006 NFC Championship game in the only previous playoff meeting between the teams.
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Carolina is coached by Ron Rivera. Rivera’s Charlotte home suffered extensive damage early Monday morning because of a housefire. Fortunately, Rivera and his family escaped with no injuries. The Panthers have a tie at the Cincinnati Bengals 37-37. Carolina has road losses at the Baltimore Ravens 38-10, Packers 38-17, Philadelphia Eagles 45-21, and Minnesota Vikings 31-13, plus home losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-19, Seahawks 13-9, New Orleans Saints 28-10 and Atlanta Falcons 19-17. Carolina has home wins over the Detroit Lions 24-7, Chicago Bears 31-24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-17, and Cleveland Browns 17-13, along with road wins over the Buccaneers 20-14, Saints 41-10 and Falcons 34-3 to clinch the NFC South title in the last game of the regular season. The Panthers have won 5 straight games after a six game losing streak. Carolina is 9-8 ATS and the total is 9-8 this season. The Panthers were 5.5 point favorites against the Cardinals and the total was 37.5.
Seattle is coached by Pete Carroll. The Seahawks have road losses at the San Diego Chargers 30-21 St. Louis Rams 28-26 and Kansas City Chiefs 24-20. The Seahawks lost at home to the Cowboys 30-23. Seattle has home wins over the Green Bay Packers 36-16, Denver Broncos 26-20 in overtime, Oakland Raiders 30-24, Arizona Cardinals 19-3, and and San Francisco 49ers 17-7, and St. Louis Rams 20-6 in the last game of the regular season, plus road wins at the Washington Redskins 27-17, Panthers 13-9, 49ers 19-3, Eagles 24-14 and Cardinals 35-6. The Seahawks are 9-6-1 ATS and the total is 8-8 this season. Seattle was a 11 point favorite against St. Louis and the total was 41.5.
Carolina is being outscored 23-21 this season. The Panthers are #19 in scoring and #21 in points allowed. Carolina is averaging 347 yards per game on offense including 219 passing and 127 rushing yards per game. The Panthers are #16 in total offense, #19 in passing and #7 in rushing. Carolina is allowing 340 yards per game on defense including 228 passing and 112 rushing yards. The Panthers are in the top eleven in both passing and total defense. Carolina is 99/232 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 94/221. The Panthers have forced 40 sacks and allowed 42 this season. Carolina has one return touchdown along with 2 defensive scores and has allowed 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season. The Panthers are +3 in turnovers.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has completed 58.5% of his passes for 3,127 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions along with 103 carries for 539 yards and 5 touchdowns. Newton was involved in a rollover car accident a few weeks ago and suffered some broken bones in his back. He started the last two weeks after missing a game and isn’t listed on the injury report this week. Derek Anderson started both games against Tampa Bay and played in garbage time of blowouts against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Green Bay and New Orleans. He has thrown for 701 yards with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Running back Jonathan Stewart has 175 carries for 809 yards with 3 touchdowns, plus 25 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown. DeAngelo Williams has 62 carries for 219 yards, plus 5 catches. He returned last week after missing five games with a broken finger. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin has 73 catches for 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns. Tight end Greg Olson has 84 catches for 1,008 yards and 6 touchdowns. Receiver Jerricho Cotchery has 48 catches for 580 yards and a touchdown. Five defensive players and six offensive linemen are questionable or out for the Panthers.
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Seattle is outscoring teams 25-16. The Seahawks are #10 in scoring and #1 in points allowed. Seattle is averaging 376 yards per game on offense including 203 passing and 173 rushing yards per game. The Seahawks are #1 in rushing and #9 in total offense in the NFL, but #28 in passing. Seattle is allowing 267 yards per game on defense including 186 passing and 82 rushing yards per game. The Seahawks lead the league in total and pass defense and are #3 in rush defense. Seattle is 93/223 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 83/216. The Seahawks have forced 37 sacks and allowed 42 this season. Seattle is +10 in turnovers this season. The Seahawks have 3 defensive touchdowns and have allowed a defensive and a special teams touchdown.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has completed 63.1% his passes for 3,475 yards with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also has 118 carries for 849 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. Running back Marshawn Lynch has 280 carries for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus 37 catches for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael will also get some carries.
Receiver Doug Baldwin has 66 catches for 825 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jermaine Kearse has 38 catches for 537 yards and a touchdown. Kearse is probable with a hamstring injury. Ricardo Lockette, tight end Cooper Helfet and Turbin each have two touchdown catches. Helfet is questionable with a rib injury. Tight end Zach Miller is out for the season with an ankle injury. Ten defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out.
Carolina is 5-1 ATS in road playoff games, 4-1 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 6-2-1 in Saturday games, 6-2 after gaining more than 350 total yards and after allowing less than 250 yards, 11-4 after allowing less than 150 passing yards, 7-3 in playoff games, 2-5 in January, 1-4 against teams with winning home records and after a cover. Four of the last five games in this series have gone under the total.
Seattle is 5-0-1 ATS after allowing less than 250 total yards, 4-0-1 after a straight up win and after allowing less than 15 points, 3-0-1 after a cover and after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 4-1 in playoff games, 7-2 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 36-14-1 against NFC teams, 5-2 in home playoff games, 37-16-1 on fieldturf, 16-7 against teams with losing road records, 36-16-2 at home and 35-16-1 overall.
During the current 5 game winning streak the Panthers are only allowing just over 12 points a game. Against Arizona, Carolina held the Cardinals to 16 points and an NFL playoff low 77 yards. Arizona scored all of their points off turnovers and a safety. Still over the last six weeks Seattle has been the best team in football especially on defense. This should be a low scoring defensive struggle as the last few games in this series have been. I like the Seahawks to pull away late and win at home.