by Ian S. Palmer
The Seattle Seahawks will battle it out with the Carolina Panthers in an NFC Divisional Round playoff matchup this Sunday, January 17 at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The Seahawks are counting their lucky stars after beating the Minnesota Vikings in their playoff opener last week. They left Minneapolis with a 10-9 win when the Vikings missed a last-second field goal. Seattle is aiming for their third-consecutive NFC championship and Super Bowl appearance, but will be facing a well-rested squad in the top-seeded Carolina Panthers. The two sides met in the regular season with Carolina winning 27-23 in Seattle in week six action.
Seahawks vs Panthers – 5Dimes NFL BETTING LINE:
- 5Dimes lists Carolina at -2.5 at -125 with Seattle +2.5 at +105 and the over/under at 44 points with each at -110
The Seahawks finished the regular season with a record of 10-6 in the NFC West and reached the postseason as a wildcard team. They were trailing Minnesota 9-0 last week heading into the fourth quarter and clawed their way back. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to teammate Doug Baldwin and then Steven Hauschka booted a 46-yard field-goal to put them in front. Things didn’t look good for them though when Blair Walsh took the field to kick the game-winning field goal from 27 yards…until he missed it with just seconds to go.
They’ll be facing a Carolina team that went 15-1 during the regular season and won the NFC South Division. Seattle finished the year by going 5-0 straight up in their last five road outings and were 3-2 against the spread in them. Russell Wilson wasn’t in his best form last weekend by going 13 for 26 in passing for 142 yards in Minnesota. This came after he averaged 236.9 yards a game during the season. He’ll also need Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse to find some open spaces if they hope to be on the end of his passes this week.
Baldwin scored the Seattle touchdown last week, but had just five receptions for 42 yards. He has 526 yards and a dozen touchdowns though in his past six games. Lockett and Kearse have 11 touchdowns and 1,349 yards between them this year. The Seahawks still aren’t sure if Marshawn Lynch will be healthy enough to play in Carolina. So far in his career, Lynch has nine touchdowns and 917 yards in 10 playoff outings. Seattle finished the season with a 15th-ranked 23 points per game while they were 23rd in total yards at 334.6, 26th in passing at 218.9, and 12th in rushing with 115.6 yards per outing.
The Panthers had the best record in the NFL this season by losing just one game and earned a bye last week. When they met Seattle earlier this year, quarterback Cam Newton threw a touchdown pass and for 269 yards, but was picked off twice. Jonathan Stewart had a pair of touchdowns in that contest along with 20 carries for 78 yards. Stewart sat out the last three contests of the season though with a foot problem and it’s not clear what shape he’ll be in for Sunday’s clash. He led Carolina in rushing this campaign with 989 yards and chipped in with six touchdowns.
If Stewart isn’t 100 per cent then rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne will be relied on to help out as he racked up 108 yards on 19 rushes in his last two games. Carolina’s passing game can’t be taken lightly since veteran tight end Greg Olsen led the team in receiving yards with 1,104 and scored seven touchdowns in 15 games this year. He also broke the 100-yard barrier on three occasions. Carolina finished the season with a top-ranked 31.2 points per game while they were 11th in total yards at 366.9, fourth in passing at 224.3, and second in rushing with 142.6 yards per outing.
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