We’re already to Saturday, so it’s time to finally announce my empirically based prediction for this week’s Seahawks game using the VOA stats from Pro Football Focus. For the first time all season, the data suggests that we could have a fairly high scoring game, so win or lose the game should be entertaining.
When The Seahawks Have The Ball
This might be the only time all year that the Seahawks have an advantage when the Seahawks have the ball. Their pathetic -17.5 is up against an every worse -41.1. If the Seahawks can’t move the move with consistency this week, then there may be no hope for them.
Ultimately though, this game may look like all the others for the Seahawks. The Panthers run defense is a very poor -29.5, so Lynch and Turbin should have a huge day. The Panthers pass coverage -17.6 should mean that the Seahwks receivers will be open with some regularity.
The problem is that the Panthers have a good pass rush (6.4), and Russell Wilson melts when under any sort of pressure. If Wilson can’t get it done this week, then the Seahawks will know that they have a serious problem on their hands at QB.
When The Panthers Have The Ball
When the Panthers have the ball, this is going to be a strength against strength matchup. The Seahawks defense remains the best (71.9) in the league even after a less than ideal performance against the Rams. The Panthers offense checks in at a very solid 20.2.
While that looks like a solid advantage for the Seahawks, it’s not quite as clear when you break it down. Half of the Seahawk’s defense rating comes from the pass rush (35.9). An ultra mobile QB like Cam Newton tends to negate a pass rush. Teams will tend to worry more about containing them then trying to get normal pressure.
The Panthers running attack is fairly poor 1.3 overall. Despite having a solid amount of yards, too many of them come from Newton so the stats are misleading. When the Panthers run the ball on designed running plays, they will be running into the 26.0 rated Seahawks rush defense.
On special teams, The Seahawks have a considerable advantage over the Panthers, 12.7 to just 3.8. The ratings indicate that Leon Washington should have a big day, and that could have a big impact on the game.
I just can’t see how the Panthers are going to slow down Marshawn Lynch this week. Lynch and Turbin could combine for 300 yards on the ground this week. Wilson shouldn’t have to to do much in order for the Seahawks offense to run up a large amount of points. Cam Newton will have to have a huge game for the Panthers to keep up, and I just don’t see him doing so against the Seahawk’s very stout defense.
Seahawks 27 – 16 Panthers