Seattle over Carolina by 7

At first glance, this looks like an ‘out of the frying pan and into the furnace of a nuclear reactor’ scenario for Cam Newton and the Panthers. Carolina got a lucky break last week when they faced an injury-ravaged Arizona team caught in a 6-week downward spiral, and the Panthers seized control in the 2nd half for a 27-16 win. Now they must travel coast-to-coast to challenge a Seattle team that is healthy, rested and playing its best football of the season. Pete Carroll’s ferocious defense has stuffed its last six foes to the tune of just 202 YPG and an incredible 39 total points while going on a 6-0 SUATS run.

Yikes! Little wonder, then, that the Seahawks opened as this weekend’s biggest favorite at -11.5 points. But could this be a classic case of ‘rest make rust’ for the fat and sassy hosts this evening? Our mean machine informs us that Russell Wilson and company are just 7-10 SU and 5-12 ATS with rest versus a foe off a SUATS win. And even though Wilson stands 24-2 SU and 18-7-1 ATS at Century Link Field, we don’t like the fact that No. 1 seeds are just 6-16 ATS in Divisional Round games since 2004, including 1-11 ATS when off a SU win (with 5 SU losses!). As for Seattle’s bid to become only the ninth team and eighth franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowls – and first since New England in 2004-05 – those that did had a QB that is either in the Hall of Fame or about to be enshrined (Patriots’ Tom Brady). We don’t think Wilson’s quite there yet and if Newton can shake off a serious turnover bug (13 INT’s and 10 fumbles in 15 games this season), we could have a signal-caller stalemate here. And let’s not forget that the streaking Panthers are 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games versus an opponent playing with rest, including 5-0 SUATS away. Carolina’s 87 YPG net edge since Game Nine seals the deal as we grab the big points in what looks to be a defensive slugfest.