Coming off a loss, the Seattle Seahawks will try to bounce back right away as they venture east in Week 15 to take on the struggling Carolina Panthers. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 15 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Fans in the Carolinas and throughout the Pacific Northwest can watch the game on Fox.
According to the Week 15 NFL odds, the Seahawks are 6-point road favorites against Carolina. The over/under for the game is set at 48 points.
The bad news for Seattle is their five-game winning streak came to a halt last week against the Rams. They are now a game back of the 49ers in the NFC West, putting them in a Wild Card spot rather than the top spot in the division. But the good news is that the Seahawks can officially clinch a playoff spot this week with a win and a loss by either the Rams or Vikings.
Of course, the Seahawks won’t be content with merely being in the playoffs. Seattle still has a chance to overtake San Francisco for the NFC West crown and perhaps the top seed in the NFC. Seattle will wrap up the regular season in Week 17 with a home game against the 49ers. That game could end up deciding the division, especially with Seattle having beaten San Francisco earlier this year. But in order for that game to decide the division, the Seahawks have to beat the Panthers and Cardinals the next two weeks.
Speaking of the Panthers, they continued their late-season spiral last week with a 40-20 loss to the Falcons. Carolina has now lost five in a row and six of their last seven games. Half of those losses have come against the NFC’s elite while the other losses have come against the Falcons and Redskins, which doesn’t say much about the state of the Panthers at the moment.
With Ron Rivera already being fired, the Panthers have waived the white flag in 2019 and don’t have much left to play for the rest of the season. Surely, they’d like their snap their losing streak before the end of the season. But the Panthers are a team at a crossroads with no permanent head coach and no idea what their roster will look like next season.
Most of the time, I’d be wary of a West Coast team playing an early game on the East Coast. But the Panthers have been such a train wreck over the past week that I’m not that worried. To be fair, the Seahawks had an off day last week against a desperate Rams teams. But that should make it easier for them to refocus on the stretch run and get back on track. As long as the spread is less than a touchdown, I’ll lean toward Seattle to cover.
Russell Wilson saw his MVP candidacy take a hit last week, as the Seattle offense failed to find the end zone. Surprisingly, Wilson has now thrown an interception in four straight games, which isn’t like him. But it seems unlikely that Wilson will have two bad games in a row. The Seahawks still have a top-notch rushing attack led by Chris Carson to help support Wilson, so I’m willing to bet he has a bounce-back game this week.
My only concern is Seattle’s offensive line, which has allowed five or more sacks in three of their last four games. At the same time, the Panthers have the best pass rush in football, which could be a problematic matchup. That being said, Carolina’s pass rush hasn’t stopped them from losing four of their last five games by at least a touchdown. The Panthers also managed just one sack last week against Atlanta’s lackluster offensive line. The Carolina defense was also gashed on the ground. That makes me think that Carson will have a good game and help keep the heat off Wilson.
On the other side of the ball, the Carolina offense has been as much of a disaster as the defense in recent weeks. Kyle Allen is still throwing for a lot of yards, but he’s also thrown seven picks in his last four games. The offensive line isn’t holding up its end of the bargain either, allowing Allen to be sacked 21 times over that span. The Seahawks don’t have a great pass rush, but even they should be able to do some damage against Carolina’s struggling O-line.
Even Christian McCaffrey is seeing his production slip. He’s been held to 70 rushing yards or less in four straight games and under 100 receiving yards in three straight games. More importantly, he has a total of two touchdowns in his last four games. If the Panthers can’t lean on McCaffrey, I’m not sure where they can turn offensively with Allen and the O-line falling apart late in the year.
Before last week’s loss to the Rams, the Seahawks had won five in a row, with four of those wins coming by at least six points. That’s a good indication that they’ll be able to handle a Carolina team that’s falling apart at the seams. I don’t think the Seahawks will run away with this game and win comfortably. But I think they’ll win by a touchdown and be able to cover on the road.