The benefit of the doubt continues with the Seahawks, despite consecutive losses for the first time since the 2012 season.
A look around at the media’s NFL picks this weeks shows just about everyone expecting the Seahawks to bounce back and get over .500. Because surely they can’t lose three straight games, right? Right?
Jerry Brewer: The Seahawks will play with desperation and must-win focus now to regain control of this season and to keep from falling further back in the NFC West division race. Seahawks 24, Carolina 16
Bob Condotta: This game looms as critical to Seattle’s season. The difference between 4-3 and 3-4 is huge. So expect Seattle, with the chaos of last weekend behind it, to play a solid game and beat a Carolina team having massive defensive issues. Seahawks 27, Carolina 14
Jayson Jenks: The Seahawks struggle to contain the explosive Cam Newton and another close game slips away in the final minutes. Carolina 27, Seahawks 24
Larry Stone: The Seahawks have been struggling to get their mojo back, and it will happen against the team that ranks 29th in the NFL in points allowed. Seahawks 35, Carolina 20
How they line up: 11 of 13 pick the Seahawks. Chris Mortensen and Tom Jackson pick the Panthers.
How they line up: Seven of eight pick the Seahawks. Will Brinson picks the Panthers.
Comment: Don Banks — The Seahawks and Panthers were among the NFC’s final four playoff teams last season, along with the Saints and 49ers. Of that group, only San Francisco has a winning record through Week 7, but the Niners are a modest 4-3 and coming off a 25-point shellacking at Denver. The point being, it’s tough to re-climb the mountain in the NFL, and lots of things can change from one year to the next. Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle has not forgotten how to win, but the difference is everybody is giving the Seahawks their absolute best shot week after week, with the perfect example being those gambling Rams, who tried everything but the hidden ball trick. This just in: NFL still stands for Not For Long.
How they line up: All five pick the Seahawks.
Comment: Elliot Harrison — Seattle had no business losing in St. Louis last week, while Carolina’s defense has no business playing as poorly as it has been. Last year, the Panthers ranked second in points allowed (behind only the Seahawks). This year, they’re 29th. Seattle, meanwhile, has already matched last season’s loss total. More symmetry involves the quarterbacks. Both Russell Wilson and Cam Newton have posted 100-yard rushing games in 2014 (in fact, Wilson has recorded two). When was the last time two quarterbacks with at least one previous 100-yard outing under their belts faced off in a regular-season matchup? The answer: It’s never happened, at least not since 1950, which is as far back as we can go with accurate box scores.
How they line up: Both picked the Seahawks.
Comment: Vinnie Iyer — The Seahawks aren’t rushing the passer and taking away the ball like they did during their Super Bowl run. The Panthers aren’t stopping the run, rushing the passer or covering anything like they did during their NFC South title run. So what gives here? It really comes down to which dynamic dual threat quarterback, little Russell Wilson or big Cam Newton, is set up for better success based on the other issues. That would be Wilson, because Seattle should be able to have Marshawn Lynch power through for chunk runs and have the speedy outside threats with whom to stretch the field. Newton has been making the most of the guys around him, but in a once slugfest that becomes a shootout, advantage goes to the former NC State quarterback back in Carolina. Seahawks 27, Panthers 24
Comment: David Steele — Carolina has nothing to talk about after getting completely exposed in Green Bay. Seattle, though, can only get away with blaming the toxic Percy Harvin for letdowns the last two weeks. The Seahawks better be able to handle their business here. Seahawks 34, Panthers 21.
How they line up: All seven pick the Seahawks.
How they line up: Both pick the Seahawks.
How they line up: Fourteen out of 16 pick the Seahawks.
Comment: The sky is falling in Seattle.
At least, that’s what some would have you believe after the Seahawks dropped their second straight game, losing in stunning fashion to the Rams in St. Louis.
According to Kevin Clark of The Wall Street Journal, the Seahawks’ biggest problem lies up front:
“Of all the keys to the Seahawks’ title run, the most crucial, league insiders say, was Seattle’s quiet assembly of a deep bench of pass rushers who could combat the modern, uptempo, pass-happy NFL offense. The Seahawks’ seemingly endless defensive-line rotation allowed the freshest four players to harass the quarterback.”
That line depth took a huge hit this year, and it’s showed. After ranking eighth in the NFL with 44 sacks last year, the Seahawks have free-fallen to 27th in the league in 2014 with only seven in six games.
Schalter expects those woes to continue, and for things to go from bad to worse for the defending champs:
The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers are both stronger than their last two or three games would indicate, but right now it’s hard to say which one is more primed for a bounce-back when they’re facing each other. I split hairs, flipped coins and went with home-field advantage.
Schalter’s in the minority, however, with most of our pundits predicting Seattle will stop the bleeding at the expense of the similarly staggering Panthers.
How they line up: Six of seven pick the Seahawks.