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January 6, 2015 at 9:44 AM

Tuesday Seahawks links and notes: Will Carolina game be tougher than we think?

The line on the Seahawks-Carolina game seems to be settling in at Seattle by 11.

That’s a pretty darn high spread for a playoff game and suggests a relatively easy Seattle win Saturday.

But Times columnist Larry Stone says to not expect the game against the Panthers to be easy.

As Stone writes of the Panthers:

This is a team that, despite losing six consecutive games at one point this season, comes into CenturyLink with two huge intangibles on their side: Momentum (a five-game winning streak, capped by the 27-16 wild-card playoff victory Saturday over Arizona), and the liberating underdog’s mindset of having nothing to lose.

They also have some tangibles on their side as well, starting with a suffocating defense.

It has been dominating since coach Ron Rivera tweaked the lineup by inserting rookies Bené Benwikere and Tre Boston into the secondary.

With top-notch linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, the Panthers have the capability to limit Wilson’s scrambles. They’ve also held Marshawn Lynch more or less in check, limiting him to a 63-yard average in those three games.

For a dissenting view, FootballPerspective.com noted that since 1990, teams that are favored by 11 or more in the playoffs are 11-2 straight up and 9-4 against the spread — meaning the games have usually turned into the routs that were expected.

Football Perspective also noted that Carolina is seventh team since 2002 to make playoffs with eight losses. Carolina is the sixth team to win in the Wild Card round — a list that includes Seattle in 2011. The other five , including Seattle, went 0-5 in the divisional round with an average loss of 20 points with each of the losses by at least 11.

So, history is very much on the side of Seattle turning this game into a blowout (in relative NFL playoff terms, anyway).

Ah, playoff time.

In other news. …

  • The Seahawks will be back at it today at the VMAC and we’ll have a ton of stuff to pass along from the press conferences of coach Pete Carroll and cornerback Richard Sherman, as well as other players.
  • Here’s my story for the Tuesday paper on long snapper Clint Gresham, who has quietly been one of the more dependable players on the team the last five years.
  • Seahawks.com wraps up Monday in Hawkville and examines how the two teams have changed since their October meeting.
  • The Charlotte Observer also notes how much the two teams have changed since the first game.
  • And here’s all the Observer’s Panthers’ coverage.
  • ESPN says Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart should have Seattle’s attention.
  • And ESPN with five interesting facts about the Panthers.
  • Carolina’s Roman Harper has some not-so-fond memories of the first Beast Mode run — he was with the Saints then.
  • The Washington Post on the biggest flaw for every remaining playoff team.
  • NFL.com re-ranks the playoff teams and still has Seattle at No. 1.
  • John Clayton with more on Carolina’s turnaround, writing specifically: “Give Carolina coach Ron Rivera a lot of credit. After the Panthers struggled through a 3-8-1 start, Rivera decided to go young. He moved three rookies — fifth-round cornerback Bené Benwikere, fourth-round free safety Tre Boston and undrafted linebacker Adarius Glanton — into the starting lineup. That went along with using three second-year defensive linemen — Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei and Wes Horton — on early downs and in the nickel. The result has been a younger, more athletic defense. The Carolina defense that started Saturday night’s victory over Arizona was an average of 25.8 years old. That’s more than a year younger than the Seahawks’ starting defense (27.18). In the Panthers’ four-game winning streak to close the regular season, they had the NFL’s fifth-best defense, giving up 278.2 yards a game.”
  • USA Today with Five Things to Watch in the Seattle-Carolina game.
  • Finally, while some Seattle assistants have done a lot of interviewing for other jobs, it’s worth reiterating that they can no longer be interviewed — or hired for jobs — until Seattle’s season is complete.

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