Match-Up: #6 Seattle Seahawks @ #1 Carolina Panthers
Spread: Panthers (-2.5)
When: Sunday, January 17th, 1:05 PM
Where to Watch: Fox
The season began somewhat rough for the Super Bowl runner-ups this season, as the Seahawks limped their way to a 2-4 record. Players got hurt, there were contract disputes, and the offensive line looked lost without Unger. Well… That still stands, but the rest of it has been figured out. Even without Marshawn Lynch AND emerging star Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks headed into the Playoffs with a ton of momentum, as they won 6 of their last 7 games, including some impressive blowouts. They went into Minnesota last weekend and found a way to survive, thanks to a missed chip shot by Blair Walsh. Some may say it was luck, so the Seahawks will look to prove that they earned this spot here against the Panthers.
Tyler Lockett (WR) – The rookie has been sensational all season long. He had a fine season receiving, averaging 13 yards per reception, and also made it to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner, as he racked up 852 kick return yards. With Josh Norman likely battling Doug Baldwin, look for Lockett to be open more often in this one.
The Panthers were so close to becoming the 2nd team to ever go 16-0… A tough loss to the Falcons in week 16 was all that kept them from that feat. Still, Cam Newton put on one hell of a show this season, as the likely MVP put together a great season. The defense played well, the running game played well… This Panthers team is just complete. But as the Seahawks got hot and the Cardinals scored more points, the Panthers still haven’t gotten the love they deserve just yet. They’ll look to prove a point here on Sunday.
The Interior Offensive Line – Andrew Norwell, Trai Turner, and most importantly Ryan Kalil have been phenomenal all season. If the Panthers want to score on this Seahawks defense, they’ll have to keep them honest. How do they do that? Pound the rock. If the Panthers can win the battle up front, they’ll have a much better chance at winning this game. It might not be easy against Michael Bennett and company, but it’s possible.
This is the toughest game of the year… The winner of this game will probably win the Super Bowl honestly… That being said, I can’t pick against this Seahawks team right now. Russell Wilson has the experience to win tough Playoff games, and he’ll do that here as he continues to build his legacy.
Final Score: Seahawks Win 35-28
Photo Credit: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2245224-seahawks-vs-panthers-score-and-twitter-reaction-from-2014-regular-season