2015 NFL Playoff Prediction – Panthers vs Seahawks

panthersseahawks

 

panthers (8-8-1) at seahawks (12-4)

Ok, just so you know, I don’t know why I need to even write this prediction.  The media trying to make this a ‘game’ is laughable at best.  So let’s just get through this exercise as fast as possible.

Although listed as the 4th seed in the playoffs, the Panthers are really the 6th seed.  Their record is 8-8-1 and even though they have won their last five games, let’s take a good look at their winning streak.

Dec 7th @ Saints  41-10 (This was an impressive win)
Dec 14th vs Buccaneers  19-17 (Buccs were the worst team in the league)
Dec 21st vs Browns 17-13 (Do you remember how bad the Browns were in this game)
Dec 28th at Falcons 34-3 (Another impressive win but within the worst division in football)
Jan 3rd vs Cardinals 27-16 (Mistake filled game vs 3rd string QB)

The teams the Panthers have beaten are not playoff quality wins.  The last playoff team the Panthers beat were the Detroit Lions in week 2.  This is a good team and not a great team.  They will be playing a great team today in Seattle.

National commentators keep talking about the last three games the Panthers and Seahawks have played.  The final scores were:

2012 – Seahawks (win) at Panthers 16-12
2013 – Seahawks (win) at Panthers 12-7
2014 – Seahawks (win) at Panthers 13-9

They say, it’s a low scoring game, the Panthers have a chance!  Normally, I would agree with them and give the Panthers the benefit of the doubt.  When a team has lost this many times to one opponent, I’m going to give that team the advantage in each of the next matchup.  Here is why I’m not giving the Panthers a shot.

Panthers QB Cam Newton has never played in Seattle
This is huge.  Even though I’m going with the eyeball test and don’t have official stats, new Quarterbacks coming into Seattle don’t play well.  At all.  Cam Newton is a poor man’s Colin Kaepernick and it took Colin three games in Seattle before he played his best 3 quarters before falling apart in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game.

Current teams have never played each other on field turf
Possibly one of the biggest differences in this game compared to the last three is the speed of the game.  Yes, the noise is a factor, but when Kam with a “K” comes at Cam with a “C” it’s faster on field turf then it is on grass, which is what the Panthers play on.  Cam Newton will look at a Seattle team he has only played against on field turf. The Seahawks are fast.  Really, really fast.  I’m shocked that commentators have not referenced the field turf vs grass and Seahawk speed.

The only way the Panthers win is if Cam Newton has a Vince Young 2006 Rose Bowl performance against the Pete Carroll led Seattle Seahawks.  That would be an epic performance, one that the league will talk about years later.  If that’s what you are selling, I’m not buying.

I do love how much advisory this Panther team has overcome this year.  Losing Greg Hardy at the beginning of the year, Cam Newton in a accident where his truck flipped over three times, and now Panther head coach Ron Rivera suffering through a house fire this week.  Could this be a team of destiny. Nope, they are not a team of destiny.  You are what your record says you are.

Another element I noticed was how the Panthers acted after this groups first playoff win.   They were acting as if they had won the Super Bowl.  Championship teams do not act this way with a Wild Card win over a 3rd string QB.   When you celebrate every little thing like first downs and touchdowns, celebrating a win becomes exhausting.  Look at Seattle Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson after a touchdown and after an interception.  He looks the same.  He is a robot. It’s about the game, it’s about the season and it’s about the Super Bowl.

I’ve been critical of Panthers’ QB Cam Newton’s body language since his rookie year.  You beat the Seahawks by playing small ball.  Cam Newton doesn’t play dink and dunk small ball style of football well at all.  Those throws have never been right with him missing receivers on their routes.

My Pick:  Seahawks:  27  Panthers:  10

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