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NFL Odds, Week 8: Seahawks at Panthers, against the spread

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

‘Are you starting to worry about the wobbly wheels on the Seahawks bus?'

A question that was put to me over a text on Monday morning by a Raiders fan, and despite the detection of some subtle mocking in there, he knows deep down (actually, it's not even that deep) that he really does have nothing to crow about, a fact he admitted himself. I could've harped on about a porous offensive line or the lack of a venomous pass rush or on field indiscipline or even injuries, but I replied this: ‘Not too worried as we're a Tony Romo magical 3rd & 20 conversion and some fake punt trickery last night away from being 5-1.'

Of course, that simplifies matters something stupid, but it's not a million miles away from the truth. Despite a stuttering start, the Seahawks could be 5-1. Yes, yes, we're not, but what we are not is a bad football team. Many teams in the NFL still fear Seattle, despite them residing amongst the double figures brigade in numerous Power Rankings, a position they've not held for what seems like eons.

To touch upon the Romo/Terrance Williams 3rd & 20, most of us probably know by now that teams were 1-55 on the season on 3rd & 20+ plays before that crushing blow took place. That amounts to the same odds as what the New York Giants are right now to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Not to win it, merely to reach Glendale. Ain't gonna happen. Romo and Williams did happen and fair play to them.

Injuries. Wow. This was coming though, to be fair. If the NFL is supposed to be cyclical, by virtue of its own design, then you gotta chuck the injury bug in there, too, and it was Seattle's turn sooner rather than later. I can't really dwell on this aspect of the current perceived mini Seahawk malaise as some teams would kill for our injury problems on a roster this stacked.

Russell Wilson. Russell bloomin' Wilson. So, he goes and breaks the single game record for most yards rushing by a quarterback on Monday Night Football, sets the record for the longest run by a Seattle quarterback in franchise history and then decides that it'd be a pretty cool idea to be the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game. All within 13 days of each other.

Think about that last stat for a second. Take longer, if you wish, because you should. The most frightening/heart warming aspect of it is that if it's taken this long for any quarterback to reach that milestone, then it's a record that genuinely may never be matched. I do recognise that for many years, quarterbacks weren't throwing for 300 YPG and certainly weren't rushing for a ton that regularly (if ever) so you could argue, pedantically, that Wilson's feat can only be measured over the last, say, 50 years. You could argue that...only ‘NFL history' sounds a lot better, particularly when, in the discussion, you place the artist that is Russell Carrington Wilson.

Before any of us realised just what Wilson had achieved, I would've laid money on him merely following in the footsteps of one of Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb to have set foot in the 300/100 club. Nope. Apparently not. Heck, I would've even wagered that John Elway might have done it. Even just the once. If anybody can match Wilson, it's Fran Tarkenton, only his yards gained on the ground were usually in a circular motion and not the traditional left foot follows right in a forward motion.

Percy Harvin. Let's start with Mike Florio. Risking the wrath of a portion of the readership, I don't normally mind Florio, despite some of the nonsense he writes. However, he's maddeningly miffed at the Seahawks pretty much keeping schtum over the whole Harvin affair, so much so that he's trying to convince those who read PFT that there's a division in Seattle's locker room. Here, I'll let you read it (recognising that some of you may already have):

‘And for the same reasons no one knew what was going on with Harvin while it was happening, no one will really know what's going on in the wake of the Harvin trade, including but not limited to whether a locker room division has emerged - and whether any potential resentment of quarterback Russell Wilson has increased in the aftermath of what some believe was an effort to clear Harvin off the roster before he could challenge the franchise quarterback who is less than three months away from becoming eligible to be paid accordingly.'

Bloody hell, Mike, that's about some of your worst stirring yet.

Since Harvin was traded, much has been made of the price Seattle paid compared to what they're going to get in return, but it honestly doesn't bother me. Percy Harvin treated us good, albeit just the once. For about 12 seconds.

Let's just say that the Seahawks would've beaten the Broncos in the Super Bowl anyway, sans Harvin. We can't be sure of that, but it's very, very likely. For as much as we saw of Harvin in a Seahawks uniform, sure, he wasn't worth the compensation. However...however...that 87 yard kickoff return ranks alongside Marshawn Lynch's wild, wild card TD run against the Saints and The Tip in the NFCCG last season as moments in your life when you were watching the Seahawks, out of your chair, delirious, howling at the TV in pure, unadulterated elation. Truly unforgettable.

You can pick whatever nostalgic Seahawks moment you wish, but Harvin's return broke Denver's heart, back and spirit. In one fell swoop. With two full quarters still to play. His TD was far from the determining factor against the Broncos, but it was the deciding factor. Truly unforgettable.

The Carolina Panthers this week become Seattle's most common non-division opponent in the RWE, including the playoffs, and each time they've had to go on the road to face them. Here's the lines from the previous two encounters:

Week 5, 2012:  Seahawks +3 WON 16-12

Week 1, 2013: Seahawks -3 WON 12-7

As of Thursday evening, Seattle's a 4.5 point favourite on Sunday while Carolina's available +5.

The Seahawks' 8-7 record ATS as a road favourite in the RWE offers no clues as to where to lay the hard earned this week, but a slightly deeper look may persuade you to believe that there is money to be made from backing Seattle. And that's aside from the knowledge that the Seahawks are 2-0 ATS against this very same team in the very same stadium over the last two seasons.

Over their last eleven games as a road favourite by a touhdown or less, the Seahawks are 8-3 ATS. I touched upon this before the game in D.C. as there's a nice little trend that's developed, a trend that's developed after Seattle began 0-3 ATS as a road favourite by a touchdown or less with Wilson under center. The three failures in the last eleven were in Indianapolis (-1) in 2013 and San Diego (-4.5) and St. Louis (-6.5) this season.

There's been one occasion over the '12, '13 and '14 seasons where the Seahawks were favoured on the road by more than a TD and that was in Week 8 in St. Louis last year, the ugliest of all SU wins. Naturally, the Rams covered easily; St. Louis is 3-0 ATS at home to Seattle in the RWE.

Much has been written this week on these pages, speculating on how Seattle will line up on offense post-Harvin, and it's words that have quickened the pulse. I'm in no position to add anything extra as I'm extraordinarily unqualified to do so and will defer to the superior football knowledge on display. I would guess that we're all in agreement that we're a better team (and probably a better franchise) without Harvin and boy, Doug Baldwin looked as though he was just about in the prime of his career last Sunday. Don't you just love how he and Wilson's personalities are poles apart? The way Russ dealt with Doug's sideline rant against the Cowboys was sublime, but they're as thick as thieves and clearly have each other's back.

As for Paul Richardson...well, it looks as though we'd better watch this space. The kid looks like a corker.

I don't know if anybody else feels the same way, but the build up to this one reminds me a little of the week after Seattle lost in Miami in 2012. I suppose it's because I feel as though we should've beaten the Rams, like we should've beaten the Dolphins. Both such dispiriting losses against teams not on our level talent wise, the front seven in St. Louis aside. The difference between the two weeks though, is that the Seahawks were headed to Chicago after Miami as 3.5 point underdogs, a whole eight points worse off than this week. And the win over the Bears was Russ's coming of age.

What of the Panthers? Well, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory this week as a home underdog. They're 2-1 ATS at home this season, covering against Detroit (-1) and Chicago (-1.5) while being obliterated by Pittsburgh (-3.5). That defeat in Week 3 saw them give up 37 points after they'd allowed a combined 21 points over the first two weeks of the season against the Buccaneers and Lions. Since then, they've surrendered 38 points to Baltimore, 37 to Cincinnati and 38 to Green Bay. It needs to be noted, however, that those three games were all on the road.

Worryingly, Carolina boasts an 8-2-1 record at home ATS dating back to the beginning of last season so the Panthers being available +5.5 points as of Saturday morning will attract many a punter and who can blame them? The 4.5 points that Seattle was being asked to cover has now gone as Boylesports have pushed the line out to 5.5. The Seahawks are still generally available -5 though.

The smart money should be on Carolina, but, after the Seahawks' offensive showing in the second half in St. Louis, this game holds very little fear for me, which is highly unusual. I fully expect the offense to pick up from where it left off last Sunday. Coming in off the back of three consecutive drives of 80 plus yards is surely too much momentum for a weak Panthers defense to handle. Yes, doesn't that sound stupidly simple? Maybe it is this week, but, yes, you're right...terrible analysis.

Not that the Seahawks aren't a huge scalp, but Carolina may also have their eye on a bigger prize, at least to them. Four days after this, they host New Orleans, who, despite a 2-4 record, are the biggest threat to the Panthers in the division. Carolina will be banking on a very hot Green Bay team doing them a favour in the Superdome this week, but the Panthers have also played a game more than the Saints so the fleur-de-lys looms large in Carolina heads. Just a thought.

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