Carolina Panthers (4-7) at Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)
Typically, the Seahawks are a very good team in the second half of the season, going 32-10-1 ATS since Pete Carroll took over (since 2011) in games 9-16 of the regular season, but they fell flat on their faces last week in Tampa Bay, losing 14-5 as 6 point road favorites in an embarrassing offensive performance. As a result, the Seahawks fell to 14th in first down rate differential. For comparison, their opponents here, the Carolina Panthers, rank 15th in that metric, just one spot behind them. The Panthers may be 4-7, but 5 of their 7 losses have come by a field goal or less, so they could easily be 7-4, 8-3, or even 9-2 if a few plays went their way.
The good news for the Seahawks is that they are significantly healthier this week than last week. Center Justin Britt, cornerback DeShawn Shead, and safety Earl Thomas return from one-game absences, while Michael Bennett returns after missing 6 games with a knee injury. Thomas and Bennett are two of the best defensive players in the league, while Shead and Britt are both having breakout years at cornerback and center respectively. Now healthy, they could easily put last week’s loss behind them and continue on what looked like another Seattle second half run, after they covered in big wins in games 9 and 10. Conversely, the Panthers are the ones who enter this game very banged up. Top defensive player Luke Kuechly will miss his 2nd straight game with a concussion and will be joined on the sidelines by safety Kurt Coleman. Offensively, the Panthers are down to a 3rd string center and a 3rd string left tackle upfront.
That being said, this line is 7, so it’s hard for me to be confident in Seattle at all, especially with the Panthers in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 140-105 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 111-72 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 234-248 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.83 points per game, as opposed to 331-464 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.01 points per game. Seattle is the pick, but only for pick ‘em purposes.
Seattle Seahawks 24 Carolina Panthers 16
Pick against the spread: Seattle -7