Good morning, 12s.
Here's a look at what's "out there" for today - which has been officially declared Blue Friday, Jan. 9 - about your Seattle Seahawks one day before their divisional-round playoff against the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers (8-8-1).
Kickoff is set for Saturday, Jan. 10 at 5:15 p.m. PT from Seattle's CenturyLink Field. The game will be nationally televised on FOX (channel 13 in Seattle), with Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play), John Lynch (commentary), and Pam Oliver (sidelines) on the call.
The Picks Are In
Elliot Harrison at NFL.com picks the Seahawks over the Panthers, 20-10, writing, "I like the Panthers to make this a heckuva game. Shoot, it might be 7-3 for the majority of three quarters. Ultimately, give Seattle's home crowd the nod -- the 12's truly give their team a leg up.Russell Wilson's legs would scare me if I were a Panthers fan. Carolina's front seven has to be disciplined about not losing contain when rushing the quarterback, or else someone has to spy Wilson. The Panthers' defensive front has a clear advantage over the Seahawks' offensive line -- although that edge was reduced by the news that Star Lotulelei is out. Still, it won't be an easy day for Marshawn Lynch and Co. The Panthers haven't allowed more than 17 points in a game since November. That said, Seattle boasts the No. 1 defense in the league, and the "Legion of Boom" won't be the least bit threatened by the Panthers' aerial attack. Cam Newton will have to run wild at some point for Carolina to take home the W."
John Breech at CBSSports.com likes Seattle to top Carolina, 24-10, "Carolina has never been able to move the ball on Seattle's defense and I don't see that changing in this game. I'll be shocked if the Panthers score over 14 points. What won't shock me though is a Seahawks blowout."
Pete Prisco at CBSSPorts.com takes the Seahawks in a close one, 17-14, "This is a rematch of the Week 8 meeting won by the Seahawks 13-9 in Carolina. Seattle has beaten the Panthers three times in the past three years by a total of 13 points. This Carolina offense is much better now than the one that took the field in Week 8. The line was a mess then, and it's now a group that has started the past six games together. That matters. But this is a huge challenge for a relatively young line with that Seattle crowd noise. It will be interesting to see how many false starts we have for Carolina. The Seahawks were without middle linebacker Bobby Wagner in the first game, but he's back. That's huge. He is key to what they do on defense. The Carolina defense has really improved over the past month as well. They finished 21st in scoring defense for the season, but in the past month they have been much better. The pass rush has come alive. They face a tough challenge in the Seattle running game. If they can slow that, and keep Russell Wilson in the pocket, they will have a chance. That's tough to do. Wilson is electrifying at times when he gets outside the pocket. The ends have to be aware of their rush lanes. Cam Newton doesn't have a bevy of weapons, but Kelvin Benjamin is a big target and Greg Olsen can create problems in the middle of the field. I would look for the Panthers to attack a lot inside with Olsen. And, of course, try and run it. Like Wilson, Cam Newton can be dangerous on the move. In the end, I think Seattle will pull this out to get to the title game. Like the last three between these teams, it won't be easy."
ESPN NFL Nation bloggers Terry Blount (Seahawks) and David Newton (Panthers) are split on which team will win Saturday night's matchup.
Newton sees a 16-14 Panthers victory, saying, "The numbers say Seattle should win, simply based on playing at home. The Seahawks have won seven consecutive home playoff games and are an NFL-best 24-2 at home since 2012. But I'm picking the Panthers. They have bucked history already by winning the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record. They are coming off a history-making effort in Saturday's NFC wild-card game, holding Arizona to a playoff record 78 yards. They have won five consecutive games, outscoring opponents by a combined 138-59. Finally, any team that can survive its star quarterback breaking bones in his back in a December car wreck and its head coach being left homeless by a house fire seems destined."
Blount has Seattle taking care of business at home, 20-10, "In three meetings over the past three seasons, the Panthers' offense has scored only one touchdown against the Seattle defense, and all three of those games were in Charlotte. How in the world do they hope to come into deafening CenturyLink Field and expect to change that against a defense that is on a historic roll? The Seahawks have allowed only 39 points in their past six games."
Don Banks at SI.com picks the Seahawks over the Panthers, 23-17, "It's indisputable that the Panthers have shown a knack for playing the Seahawks tough, with their three meetings over the span of the past three seasons being decided by a combined margin of just 13 points. But two other points are also inescapable: Seattle has found a way to win all three of those games in gritty, comeback fashion, and all of them have been played in Charlotte, not the noise machine known as CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks have won their last four games by an average of 15.3 points per outing. The Panthers defense is solid enough to hold up for much of the evening against Seattle's Russell Wilson-led offense, but I don't see Cam Newton and Co. making enough happen on their side of the ball against a Seahawks defense that has been stoning opponents the past six games. When the outcome hangs in the balance, Seattle will find a way to scratch out the win and become the first NFC No. 1 seed to advance to a second consecutive conference title game since the Eagles went to three in a row from that launching spot in 2002-'04."
Doug Farrar and Chris Burke at SI.com each like the Seahawks to win by 10 points.
Evan Silva at rotoworld.com predicts a 24-10 win by Seattle.
Every NFL expert at ESPN.com is picking the Seahawks to win.
All five of NFL.com's *Around the League *writers take the Seahawks over the Panthers.
And seven of eight NFL staffers at CBSSports.com like the Seahawks.
The Local News
Here at Seahawks.com, Clare Farnsworth leads his recap of Thursday's events in Hawkville with a look at Pete Carroll's coaching history in North Carolina and says whichever team's linebackers have the better game will win on Saturday.
I take a closer look at how the Seahawks offense plans to attack an improved Panthers secondary.
Simply Measured's Kevin Shively recaps the week that was in social media surrounding the Seahawks.
Danny O'Neil at 710Sports.com says the Seahawks will have history and a raucous home crowd on their side tomorrow night.
Jerry Brewer at the Seattle Times reminds of the role the offense played in the Seahawks' success and outlines why Russell Wilson is a better quarterback than Cam Newton.
Gregg Bell at the Tacoma News Tribune profiles the three-year career of linebacker Bruce Irvin.
And Adam Lewis at SportsPressNW.com highlights the play of the Seahawks tight ends that have stepped up in place of the injured Zach Miller.
The National Buzz
Peter King at TheMMQB.com says the Panthers have reasons to be confident as they ready for the Seahawks.
Kevin Goldner of TheMMQB.com looks at the numbers behind the Seahawks' success at CenturyLink Field.
Terry Blount at ESPN.com reviews three things that made a difference during the Seahawks' six-game win streak to close the season.
ESPN Stats & Information's Zach Rodgers breaks down the top stats to know surrounding tomorrow night's matchup.
Bill Barnwell at Grantland.com has a detailed preview of each of this weekend's divisional-round matchups.
Greg Rosenthal at NFL.com says pass protection is the biggest obstacle facing Russell Wilson this postseason.
And Conor Orr at NFL.com takes a look at what makes the Seahawks different from any other club.
Uber Teams With Russell Wilson's Passing Academy
This Friday and Saturday, whenever you request a ride from Uber Seattle you'll have the option to donate $3 to Russell Wilson's Passing Academy - a football camp put on by the Seahawks quarterback across the nation each summer.
All you have to do is tap "DONATE" at the bottom of your screen and the donation will be added to your final fare. Uber will match all donations to come via the app up to $5,000.
Lost & Found
On Thursday, NFL agent David Mulugheta tweeted that he found Derrick Coleman's Super Bowl XLVIII championship ring in a rental car.
Mulugheta, who works for AthletesFirst - the organization that represents Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas - said he would send the ring to Thomas to give back to the Seahawks fullback.
Coleman later sent a tweet to Mulugheta calling him his "hero," noting he had stashed the ring in the rental car after showing it off to kids.
Tweet of the Day
Today's "Tweet of the Day" comes from Washington governor Jay Inslee, who raised the 12 Flag yesterday at our state's capitol.
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