We've got a free NFL pick ready for Saturday's matchup, as Seattle cranks up defense of its Super Bowl crown against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
From 1920 through 2009, no NFL team made it through a full season with a losing record and still reached the playoffs. It has happened twice now in five years, so naturally, the numbskull running things believes the answer is to increase the chances of it occurring by adding another team from each conference to the postseason.
The two teams that have recorded the sub-.500 playoff feat collide this Saturday in primetime when the Seattle Seahawks host the Carolina Panthers. Big FOX will have the kickoff from CenturyLink Field at 8:15 PM (ET), and sports books like the defending Super Bowl champs by double digits.
SBR's live NFL Odds caught the opening number at -11 on the Seahawks with the spread now scattered from 10½ to 11½ at various outlets. Scoreboard bettors are presently making their decisions which way to play a 40½ point total.
Second Playoff Battle In Short-Lived Series
Playing in different conferences from 1995-2001 along with calling opposite coasts home have led to only a short amount of series history between the Seahawks and Panthers, but this won't be their first rodeo as far as the playoffs go. The clubs got together a little less than nine years ago to decide the NFC Championship, Seattle skating to a 34-14 victory at home thanks to a clock-controlling offense and four Carolina turnovers.
That win was one of six the Seahawks own in the series, including the last four meetings, while the Panthers have emerged victorious just twice.
The last three clashes have taken place in Carolina on the three most recent regular season schedules. This year's tussle took place during Week 8, Seattle needing touchdown in the final minute to avoid the upset for a 13-9 triumph. Punters playing the Panthers brought home the cash to draw the series even against the NFL spreads, 4-4. It also marked the 3rd-straight easy 'under' between the squads.
Carolina D Dominates Cards In Wild Card Win
The Panthers not only joined the Seahawks as sub-.500 playoff performers, they also mimicked Seattle's 1st-round win in 2011 with an easy 27-16 victory this past Saturday at home against Arizona. Call it an ugly effort on the Cardinals' part or fantastic game by Carolina's defense -- or perhaps, a little of both -- but it was a game of historical proportions.
Arizona managed just 78 yards of total offense against a Panther stop unit that ranked 10th during the regular season in that column. Only 12 of those yards came in the final 30 minutes, with Cam Newton and the Carolina offense bearing full responsibility for all 16 points the Cardinals put on the board.
Should We Expect Another Defensive Battle In Series?
As good as Carolina's defense was this past weekend, Seattle's has been throughout the 2014 NFL betting campaign. The Seahawks allowed the fewest yards (267 per game) and points (15.9), holding the Panthers under both of those marks when the teams met in late-October.
Carolina will be missing a couple of key members on its defense as safety Thomas DeCoud (hamstring) and linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle) are questionable. The most crucial injuries for Seattle are on the offensice side of the ball where center Max Unger (knee) and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (hamstring) could miss seeing action.
The weather forecast doesn't appear to present much trouble right now, though bettors are advised to get an update before making their plays; cloudy and chilly (44º) conditions are expected at kickoff, with only a 20% chance of rain.
Cam and the points are awfully tempting, but I'm liking the 'under' even better for my free NFL playoff pick.
Free NFL Pick: Panthers-Seahawks Under 40.5 at The Greek