kearly wrote:I'd probably put the odds at -1 Carolina. Seattle is statistically (DVOA) close to a dead average team on the road, plays worse than that at 10 am, and Carolina is riding a 4 game winning streak from the end of last season. Their weighted DVOA defense ranked 12th last season after finishing dead last year prior. They finished the year on a bit of a roll on defense and that was before they drafted two promising DTs in the draft to shore up their defense's biggest weakness. If you've watched Luke Kuechly play, particularly this preseason, you know how much of a monster he's becoming.
By contrast, Seattle is hobbled and stumbling a bit. They will be starting their 4th and 5th string pass rushers on the ends. We probably have the best #4 and #5 options in the league, but still, these guys were considered roster fringe less than a month ago. Russell Wilson has shown different varieties of rust in each preseason game so far.
Carolina's run defense ranked 11th last season and that was without Star Lotulelei and Jon Beason, who are both outstanding run defenders. I hope Pete has the brains to be more pass oriented in this game- Carolina's pass defense is merely average but their run defense could be a problem. Very similar to the situation in Miami last year.
Our saving grace is that Cam Newton struggled last season and hasn't gotten better this preseason. Carolina's running game (sans Newton) was a joke even before they lost Stewart. Barring injury our run defense looks special. Shutting out Carolina's offense is a real possibility, although it's worth noting that Seattle actually lost a game last season against a team that didn't score an offensive touchdown, and they nearly lost two more against teams that scored 14 points or less. Also, our defense had most of their worst performances in 10 starts am last season.
Sure, those were early season games before Wilson clicked, but Wilson hasn't looked like he's in mid-season form this preseason and is making uncharacteristic mistakes. Teams have figured out how to make Wilson uncomfortable with interior pressure, delayed blitzing and gap-controlling D-lineman. It's up to Wilson and Bevell to prove they can adjust. I think they will eventually, but immediately? That would surprise me.
I do think our offense is going to be amazing this year, but it could hit a bump at Carolina since Wilson is struggling and even the best run games tend to hit a wall against very good run defenses. And if the penalties show up like they did in the preseason, I would almost expect an ugly loss.
IMO, this is the toughest game of the season. 10am, summer heat, under-rated team that matches up well against us, SF the week after, week 1 which is upset central, Wilson not looking quite like himself, and then key injuries.
If we lose, I won't be surprised and I won't take it any harder than if we lost at Atlanta or SF. This is going to be a TOUGH game to win unless Seattle plays mistake free, which they haven't been, lately. I'd give Seattle probably a 45% chance to win. It's a huge game, especially if Carolina becomes a WC contender later this season, but if we do lose I'd count it as a losable game that we didn't win.
Kip, I don't often think you are wrong, but I think you have this one way off. The summer heat is about the only concern I agree with, and that is a big one.
Wilson is not struggling. I simply don't see how you are calling pre-season tinkering with an offense is equal to struggling. A bit of read option will serve to freeze some DE and safeties, things we simply did not for good reason see in the pre-season. The run game might struggle, and if it does this could be a low scoring affair.
You have been really impressed with how Carolina played late last year. I am not. I watched those games, they beat really bad teams with one exception, Atlanta, and we saw first hand how a mobile QB turns taht Atlanta D inside out.
Worthy of note: Rivera is not a good HC. Carolina is playing out the string with him. And Cam may have a new OC, but the much touted offensive changes this yer have mostly amounted to just letting Cam do what Cam does best and more run game. Chud was in error trying to make Cam play more traditional. But Seattle's strength is lateral speed on defense, which is where Cam makes his hay, and down the numbers to the sidelines press coverage, which is where Cam makes his best throws.
But there is the heat.