Good morning, 12s.
Here's a look at what's "out there" for today - Friday, Jan. 15 - about your Seattle Seahawks two days before the team matches up against the Carolina Panthers in a divisional round playoff game at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium, where kickoff is set for 10 a.m. PT with national television coverage on FOX (channel 13 in Seattle).
The Picks Are In
Don Banks at SI.com picks the Panthers over the Seahawks, 23-20, "Quite the draw for the 15–1 Panthers. Seattle has always been a handful for Carolina, and now the Seahawks can ride into Charlotte on the momentum of surviving last Sunday's near-death experience in the arctic upper Midwest. The Panthers haven't played a ton of quality teams this season, so their dominance could be a little deceiving. Their road win over the Seahawks in Week 6, after trailing by nine in the fourth quarter, is when Carolina really started looking like a Super Bowl contender. I expect Cam Newton to use Greg Olsen to great effect against a Seattle defense that often gets tormented by tight ends, and to put on an MVP-level performance at home in what should be a frenzied atmosphere. I think it'll take all day to push Pete Carroll's proud champions out of the Super Bowl tournament, but Carolina will get it done and its magical season will continue."
ESPN NFL Nation reporters Sheil Kapadia and David Newton, who cover the Seahawks and Panthers respectively, share their picks and predictions for Sunday's matchup between the two teams they report on.
Kapadia sees a 21-20 Seattle win, writing,* "The Seahawks' defense has allowed just one touchdown in their past six road games. They are remarkably healthy -- all 11 regular starters will be in uniform -- and played well down the stretch. Offensively, the Seahawks could have trouble running the ball and protecting Russell Wilson. These two teams always play close games, but Pete Carroll's group finds a way and moves on to the NFC title game."*
Newton likes the Panthers by a score of 23-17, saying,* "I'm going to side with Carolina safety Roman Harper on this one when he said the Panthers 'are the better team.' They proved that with a 15-1 regular-season record that included a 27-23 victory at Seattle in October. That came in large part because the Seahawks couldn't cover tight end Greg Olsen, who had seven catches for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Olsen will be a big factor again. That this one is in Charlotte, where Carolina has won 11 straight, will be a bigger factor."*
Peter Schrager at FOXSports.com likes Seattle to win this weekend, 20-16, "You can have your Cowboys-Eagles or Bears-Packers. This is the rivalry to watch in the NFC for the next several years. They've played every season Wilson's been a pro and 2015 was the first time Carolina got the best of Seattle. This will be the hardest-fought battle this side of Bengals-Steelers and should include a similar kind of intensity. I've been a huge supporter of this Panthers squad all season and think they've got the best quarterback and linebacker in the NFL. And yet, I've got the Seahawks winning this one."
David Steele at Sporting News thinks the Seahawks have the edge, predicting a 31-27 Seattle victory, "The Seahawks clearly know how to do enough to win. The offense was held in check by the Vikings, except when Russell Wilson was improvising brilliantly on the biggest play of the day. The defense was vulnerable at critical times during the season, but did everything necessary to put them in position to get very lucky at the end. That resourcefulness and resilience is the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs. The Panthers will find out, after their brilliant season, if they have it themselves. Chances are they do, but chances are the Seahawks do it better."
Elliot Harrison at NFL.com thinks the Panthers will win 23-21, "Seahawks at Panthers is easily the toughest game to call on the Divisional Round docket. Seattle is coming off a gut-check contest that required as much intestinal fortitude as an athlete's body can handle. Carolina has enjoyed a week of rest, and will be hosting the defending NFC champs in Charlotte. Ron Rivera's group, it should be noted, hasn't lost there since November, 2014. Both teams play a physical brand of football that Olivia Newton-John certainly respects. It's mostly the prospective brutality of the defenses involved -- but also the fact that the Seahawks are the league bully and the Panthers carry the NFL's best record -- that has fans all hot and bothered about this matchup."
Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com has the Panthers winning 23-17, "The Seahawks have to feel fortunate they are playing in this game after the missed field goal in Minnesota. But you don't give great teams chances like this to keep going without paying. Seattle has an edge in postseason experience. It also helps that Russell Wilson has made huge strides as a passer. They will be a tough team to get out. But Carolina beat them at Seattle earlier this year and did it with a fourth-quarter rally that will give them confidence. I think Cam Newton will come out and show why he's the MVP. He will take a beating from a good Seattle front, but in the end he will outplay Wilson to advance the Panthers."
John Breech at CBSSports.com picks the Seahawks to win 23-20 because of kicker Steven Hauschka, "These two teams are basically mirror images of each other, except at kicker, and if we learned anything from the Seahawks game in Minnesota, it's that having the more accurate kicker helps, so I guess I'll take the team with the more accurate kicker (Seahawks Steven Hauschka hit 93.5 percent of his field goals on the season. Panthers kicker Graham Gano only hit 83.3 percent)."
Mike Florio and Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com each predict one-point wins, but for different teams.
Florio, who likes the Seahawks to win 24-23, says, "Sometimes (most of the time), you get what you pay for when visiting this site. For weeks, I've had a strong gut feeling that the Panthers will earn the No. 1 seed, host the Seahawks in the divisional round, and lose. I'm going with my gut on this one, because there's otherwise no clear way to discern a winner between a pair of teams that have been squaring off every year — and usually playing close games."
MDS, who thinks Carolina will win 21-20, writes, "This is, to me, the hardest game of the weekend to pick. The Seahawks, when they're at their best, are probably the best team in the league. But it's hard to have a lot of confidence that they'll play their best on Sunday at Carolina after a shaky win over the Vikings on Sunday. The Panthers had the best record in the league during the regular season, but they did it against an easy schedule. I'm a little more confident in Russell Wilson having a big game than I am in Cam Newton, but I'm more confident in the Panthers' defense playing at home than I am in the Seahawks' defense with their second straight road game. This almost comes down to a coin flip, but I'll take the Panthers."
Gary Myers at the New York Daily News sees a 24-20 Seattle win, "Carolina is the most unlikely near-undefeated team in NFL history. Newton had a tremendous season, (35 TDs, 10 INTs and 636 yards rushing), but he has limited offensive weapons other than tight end Greg Olson. ... Although the Legion of Boom is not quite as feared as it was two years ago, don't expect Ted Ginn or Jerricho Cotchery to do much damage. This game is completely on Newton and the Panthers defense."
Danny O'Neil at 710Sports.com picks each game in the divisional round and thinks Seattle wins 20-13, "Two of Cam Newton's four worst single-game passing totals have come against the Seahawks. He is 1-4 against Seattle, including the playoffs, and up until the fourth quarter of the Week 6 meeting this season, he had been singularly stymied by Seattle's defense. Yet all he did in that fourth quarter was complete 12 of 15 passes for 162 yards while leading two scoring drives of 80 yards, and his 26-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen keyed Carolina's comeback. Was that a turning point against Seattle's defense or was that the case of Newton finding the holes in a defense that was missing Bobby Wagner that game and still playing Cary Williams? Seattle's defense has allowed one touchdown over its last six road games, including the playoffs."
Two of the four sportswriters at the Seattle Times like the Seahawks chances to win this weekend, and so does celebrity guesser Sigi Schmid, head coach of Seattle Sounders FC, who writes, "I think Russell Wilson is playing really well right now, and the Seahawks' run defense has been so good lately. I think they're just gonna man up."
Bing.com predicts a 43 percent chance of a Seahawks win at Carolina, "On Sunday, Seattle again travels east to play the early game. Last year, Seattle won at Carolina by 4 during the regular season and had a more favorable re-match by playing and winning the playoff game at home. Carolina gets the opportunity to do likewise this year, winning in Seattle by 4 and now coming home in the playoffs to try and sweep the season. Carolina led the league in scoring while Seattle allowed the fewest points, making this a proverbial 'unstoppable force versus immovable object' game. In this case, the immovable object is less rested and possibly still thawing out from wild card week – Carolina gets the nod in this re-match."
Three of five *Around the League *writers at NFL.com take the Seahawks over the Panthers.
Three of seven NFL minds at FOXSports.com think Seattle wins on Sunday.
Two of the eight football analysts at CBSSports.com are picking the Seahawks to win.
And three of the 12 analysts at ESPN.com who had submitted picks as of this writing have Seattle winning this weekend.
Tweet Of The Day
Today's "Tweet of the Day" comes from us - @Seahawks, as we share photos from the top of Seattle's Space Needle, where former Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant raised the 12 Flag this morning to celebrate Blue Friday and the team's involvement in this weekend's divisional round.
More From Around The Web
Here at Seahawks.com, digital media reporter John Boyle previews Sunday's meeting between Seattle's No. 1-ranked run defense and Carolina's No. 2-ranked rushing attack and highlights the similarities between the Seahawks and Panthers, a game that defensive end Michael Bennett said "America wants to see."
Running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) and tight end Luke Willson (concussion) practiced in full on Thursday, the second straight day of full work for both players.
Here's three things we learned from Russell Wilson's Thursday press conference, where the Seahawks quarterback previewed Sunday's divisional round.
Cliff Avril was a surprise guest at Michael Bennett's Thursday press conference.
The '12 Building' in downtown Seattle will light up today at 4 p.m. Here's a look at how it comes to life.
Sheil Kapadia and David Newton at ESPN.com break down Sunday's divisional playoff game between the Seahawks and Panthers.
Rob Rang at Scout.com looks beyond the quarterbacks to identify three key matchups heading into this weekend's Seahawks-Panthers playoff.
Doug Farrar at SI.com identifies the weaknesses of each remaining playoff team.
Andy Benoit at TheMMQB.com previews each of this weekend's divisional round matchups.
Jenny Vrentas at TheMMQB.com explains why Seahawks-Panthers is the most intriguing matchup this weekend.
Bob Condotta at the Seattle Times ranks the head coaches in Seahawks history and takes a look at the top five games between the Seahawks and Panthers.
Gregg Bell at the Tacoma News Tribune says safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas' defense of tight end Greg Olsen may be this weekend's most important matchup.
Stephen Cohen at SeattlePI.com calls Kam Chancellor vs Greg Olsen one of this weekend's must-watch matchups.
And KING 5 News shares the story of a fan who recreates key moments in Seahawks history using miniature figurines.
Take a walk down memory lane with photos from all 10 Divisional playoff game the Seahawks have ever played, including last year's matchup against the Carolina Panthers who the Seahawks face once again in a Divisional playoff game on Sunday.
D*id I miss anything you think is worthy of inclusion? Let me know on Twitter *