By Lance Rinker
Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks
Saturday – January 10 – 7:15 pm CST
CenturyLink Field – Seattle
In January, teams that get hot at the right time and head into the playoffs with that momentum are the ones you don’t bet against.
The Carolina Panthers have won five straight games, allowed just 11.4 points per game in that stretch and are averaging 197 rushing yards per game on offense.
The Seattle Seahawks, much like the Panthers, looked dead in the water about midway through the season and were openly disparaged as being dysfunctional, lacking leadership and being unable to get back to the playoffs as defending champions. Head coach Pete Carroll, with the help of his leaders on the roster, right the ship and take on the Panthers on a six-game win streak.
If the teams that win in January are the ones that get hot at the right time, is it safe to put money on either of these teams?
Contrary to popular opinion, the Panthers do have a legitimate shot to beat the Seahawks in their own house. Granted, the CenturyLink Field advantage is very real and odds makers in Vegas essentially gave the Seahawks a touchdown for this game being in Seattle.
The NFL doesn’t have games where the inferior team doesn’t have a shot in hell of pulling off the upset. Don’t confuse it with college, where the inferior teams routinely get rolled by far superior teams by 40 points on a weekly basis.
Seattle already got a taste of just how dangerous a team the Panthers are when the two teams met on October 26. Seattle beat the Panthers 13-9, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with just 47 seconds left in the game. That victory was part of the seven game winless streak Cam Newton and his team endured before finishing the season on a high note and winning the sorriest division in football.
Breaking down a bit of history, it doesn’t look good for the Panthers.
- They are 0-3 against Seattle in the last 3 years. Those games were at home.
- Seattle is 24-2 at home with Russell Wilsonat quarterback.
- Seattle is 5-0 at home against East coast teams traveling to CenturyLink.
Common sense dictates that the Carolina Panthers absolutely cannot win this game. No team in the history of the sport has made it past the second round with a .500 or worse record. The laws of the universe are telling us that the Seahawks are just too good, have one of the better coaches in the NFL, a quarterback that every team would love a draft do-over on and a mental and physical toughness not to be trifled with.
But here’s the crazy thing…
No team is playing with more house money right now than the Panthers. They’re not even supposed to be here, and you have to wonder if they would have handled the Arizona Cardinals so handily in the first round if the Cardinals weren’t without their top two quarterbacks.
For the Panthers, they have nothing to lose. There is absolutely zero pressure on them. If they get sent home packing then okay, glad to have made it this far. If they pull off what will likely be considered one of the 14 or 15 greatest upsets in sports history, well holy hell.
I’d be insane if I chose the Panthers over the Seahawks in this one, so I’m not going to. I’m going to save my insane logic for another time. All I know is this…
Expect a dogfight. And not where it’s one-on-one; in this game expect to see a lot of three-on-one bullying from both teams.