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NFL playoffs odds: Seahawks vs. Panthers against the spread

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I just sat there, disbelieving. Then my arms went up. I didn't start screaming and I didn't start going crazy. I just said, "I don't believe it." Then, before us, on screen, amongst a blur of leaping white shirts (alright, Earl Thomas) was Richard Sherman, sunk to his knees, head to the turf. That will live with me.

What happened to the self-serving, Week 6 Seattle Seahawks? You remember, that overpaid bunch who'd lost all hunger and were happy to rest on their laurels with back to back Super Bowls in the rear view. Probably every player never to have appeared in a Super Bowl would kill to have played in two (let alone back to back) and even losing one of them still means getting a ring and that's all this sport is about. Well, that's a lie, but you get the broader point.

This bunch had served the city like no other incarnation of this football team ever has so the players were taking the longest time out known to man, probably never to return with the same fire. It had been the most fun, but the band was splitting up before our very eyes. Like that was ever agreed upon behind closed doors. Sherman on his knees, almost obviously in prayer, wasn't contrived. Russell Wilson's recovery of the errant snap...

...hang on, I need to ask something. At that split second in time and the earth stood still on its axis with the Seahawks trailing 9-0 and Wilson stooping/sliding to collect the football, I find myself wondering what Seattle's win probability was. Probably in the minuses, if such figures of probability even exist. The ensuing four seconds was bedlam, but the kind of controlled chaos that only Wilson and a tiny handful of quarterbacks have ever seemed to revel in. And, not for the first time in a Seahawks uniform, he did it. He just did it.

So, as effort, desire, tenacity and sheer bloody minded will to win go, Seattle (still) has it in spades. It never went away. Even after Week 6. Old news alert, but Doug Baldwin's worldy of a one hander and Kam Chancellor's daylight robbery of Adrian Peterson are just two further examples of how the talent coursing through the Seahawks has helped carry them to the divisional round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. This ain't luck. Or even Luck and doesn't Indianapolis know it?

I read this week (OK, it was on PFT) that Peterson does, and should, apparently, shoulder his fair share of the blame for the defeat last Sunday as he was ‘downright terrible' against Seattle having repeatedly failed to move the ball. His 45 yards on 23 carries was even less of an average yards per carry than his 18 yards on eight carries in Week 13. However, there's the rub and the rather obvious devil is surely there in the leap-off-the-page detail. Hasn't the largest kinda pattern emerged when Peterson runs against the Seahawks this season? The league's leading rusher has averaged 2.03 yards per carry against Seattle this season over two games and both Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin were simply outstanding last week, not that you need your Seahawks news spoon fed to you by some damn Limey. Peterson wasn't ‘downright terrible' in either game, he was just never allowed to get started. And I'd guess that maybe, just maybe, Seattle quite possibly game planned for that to happen. Or maybe they just got lucky. Twice. Against Adrian Peterson. Yeah, that'll be it.

What's coming is way off track, but it just happened to me. I began this post on Tuesday evening, but then my birthday and me leaving my job got in the way so it's now Friday evening and I have a lot of work to do to finish it. However, re-opening this, I noticed a folder of spreadsheets that I keep, but rarely look at. They're my own colour coded records of the NFL Draft, a labour of love I partake in, well, because I can. I opened up the 2008 Draft, purely for sh!ts and giggles, and read from the bottom up. There, in Round 6, picked 190th overall by the Cleveland Browns, was one Ahtyba Rubin. What's really interesting about this is that Seattle had the 189th pick and overlooked Rubin for Tyler Schmitt...a long snapper. Reason, if any was needed, why the Seahawks were screaming out for two blokes named Pete and John.

I wrote before the Vikings game (this is far from self-praise) that, mainly due to the elements, ‘it may even turn out to be a classic'. It was actually labelled that (somewhere), but if indeed it is, it's only because of Blair Walsh's missed field goal. Strange that a game, albeit a playoff game, can be called so when nineteen points were scored; this was hardly Super Bowl XLIII. Had Walsh nailed the kick and the Seahawks duly caved in the remaining 20+ seconds, the game would've been instantly forgettable to practically everybody bar those of a Vikings persuasion and folk who like to record the importance of extreme cold weather games, which is fair enough to the latter as I'm also kinda fascinated at seeing supreme athletes pushed to the limit. Aren't we all? OK, maybe not.

It's probably unknown to us how relevant tape from last week is, but I can only imagine Russell Wilson's reaction at having to sit through watching it for a game this week that couldn't be further removed from Minnesota's climes: "But [coach], the film is a saddening bore." Russell. Intense. Perfectionist.

Don't look forward to the next time Seattle's favoured by anything between 3.5 and 4.5 points on the road, at least from a gambling perspective. The Seahawks are now 0-5 ATS in their last five when favoured by such a line. However, they are 3-2 SU in those five and 2-0 SU in the last two, winning both by a single point, in Dallas and Minnesota.

As we know, the Seahawks don't get blown out and are consistent in this arrangement and, if my opinion here is worth anything, I give Seattle more chance this week than last, in weather that doesn't nullify talent. Seahawks at Panthers is a regular theme and a happening that has, er, happened every year since Russell Wilson came to town. Here's the breakdown:

2012, Week 5: (+3 at Panthers) WON 16-12

2013, Week 1: (-3 at Panthers) WON 12-7

2014, Week 8: (-4.5 at Panthers) WON 13-9

The games have been excruciating to watch and attritional in their unfolding yet this Sunday figures to be oh, so different. It's to be expected that Carolina will come out all guns blazing and for Seattle to come straight back at them with both barrels. It may even turn out to be a classic. Aw, I couldn't resist. As you'll have noticed, the Seahawks are 2-1 ATS in Carolina since 2012 and were only one point away from being 3-0 ATS. If you like to base your gambling on history/trends, which I'm not averse to, Seattle's worth laying your hard earned down for this weekend. Not that it's necessarily similar (contradiction coming), but in the same way that the St. Louis/London-that-didn't-happen/Los Angeles Rams are Seattle's kryptonite, then the same can be said about Seattle of Carolina, at least on the road, which is exactly what we need to read with regards Sunday.

Marshawn Lynch boarded the plane and says he's ready so it's a given that he'll play. Last week (before he ruled himself out) I touched upon his presence possibly disrupting the offensive groove Seattle's found without him. Seven days hence, I couldn't give a damn. This is one and done football, on the road against a 15-1 team (19-1 in their last 20 regular season games) and if the Seahawks need all the weapons they can muster, then they've just reacquired one of their biggest. You get the feeling that time of possession will have a few words to say on who emerges victorious on Sunday and, while Lynch hasn't been that spectacular against the Panthers, it's still Marshawn Lynch, a mountain of a football player capable of eating up clock.

It does remain to be seen how game ready Lynch is, but my stomach feels a whole lot more settled knowing Lynch will be cradling the football than if he wasn't.

As of Friday evening, Ted Ginn is officially questionable (knee) for the Panthers. Ted Ginn. Who cares, huh? Not so fast. If he doesn't play, it's pretty significant. Behind Greg Olsen (123 targets), Ginn sits second with 96 targets (44 receptions), some way clear of third placed Devin Funchess (64 targets, 31 receptions). In addition, Ginn leads the team in receiving touchdowns with 10, three ahead of Olsen. Cam Newton likes himself some Ted Ginn. Ginn is also Carolina's punt returner, averaging 10.3 yards per return over the regular season, which is like a thousand yards per return if your name is Bryan Walters. With Walters in mind though, among the top twenty punt returners this season, Ginn's 22 fair catches leads the pack. It's easy to overlook somebody like Ginn, but Newton will be desperate for him to be available.

Seattle's available anywhere between +1.5 and +2.5 points this week, a line the layman may assume would be larger seeing as Seattle's just scraped past Minnesota. However, it's nigh on impossible to attach any context to what happened last Sunday, such was the uniqueness of the weather. I plan to list the games in the RWE where the Seahawks have been the ‘dog such as they are this week, but ain't sure how long it'll be. Bear with me as I take a gander. I'll be right back. (Blimey, I feel like Tarantino, putting that ridiculous interval into The Hateful Eight. My ego's going through the roof. Bit like Quentin, although I'm still a huge fan.)

To pad the list out a little, I'll include Super Bowls here, purely because they were played away from the confines of the CLink and the spreads are relevant:

2012, Week 8: (+2.5 at Lions) LOST 28-24

Super Bowl XLVIII: (+2.5 vs. Broncos) WON...I think

2014, Week 11: (+2.5 at Chiefs) LOST 24-20

2014, Week 13: (+2 at 49ers) WON 19-3

2014, Week 14: (+2 at Eagles) WON 24-14

Super Bowl XLIX: (+1.5 vs. Patriots) LOST 28-24

2015, Week 13: (+1.5 at Vikings) WON 38-7

A 4-3 record ATS, but the only teams comparable to this week's Panthers are the Broncos and Patriots in the respective Super Bowls. Kansas City played a heck of a game against Seattle last season, but they clearly perpetuated the reality of teams raising their game against champions as they duly dropped their next three and four of their next six. However, KC was in the midst of building something pretty special and, although Mark Lathrop might disagree with me, the Chiefs are serious Super Bowl contenders this season., what you got?

Seattle is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games

Seattle is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games on the road

Seattle is 6-0 SU in its last 6 games on the road

Seattle is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games against Carolina

Carolina is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games

Carolina is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home

Carolina is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games against Seattle

The best of the new generation of quarterbacks are there for our viewing pleasure on Sunday and, as of Saturday morning, I just know it'll be difficult to enjoy pretty much any of it, but it is what it is and it sure as hell beats not being where we are right now. Whatever happens, it's been a pleasure.

Now, go and take the Seahawks +2.5.

Please gamble responsibly.