Cam Newton knew what to expect when the Panthers hosted the Seahawks on Sunday.
“Let’s call a cat a cat and a dog a dog,” Newton told the media after the game, an ugly 16-12 Seattle victory. “They’re a great defense. We knew what they were going to do before the game even started.”
Still, though, the former No. 1 overall pick played as if he had no answers. Not even on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line with a chance to take the lead, when Newton scrambled out of the pocket and misfired on a pass over the middle.
This is rapidly becoming a theme for Seattle.
The Seahawks rank fifth in the league in pass defense (192.0), third in rush defense (66.6) and are giving up only 14 points per game (tied for second).
The defense is tops in the NFL in yards allowed per play (4.4), and when you couple that with the fact that Seattle grinds it out offensively, it’s easy to see why each of its first five games have gone ‘under’ the total.
Oddsmakers are surely going to adjust, but will Seahawks unders still be worth a look the rest of this season?
In an age where teams are throwing more than ever, Seattle is a throwback. They rank third in the NFL with 172 rushing attempts and only 31st in passing attempts (125).
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson can make some plays but is still extremely limited as a passer, and the Seahawks tried and failed in the offseason to find any great deep threats on the outside. That, along with Marshawn Lynch’s effectiveness on the ground, results in a lot of time-consuming drives that munch up the clock and limit opponents’ number of possessions.
Overall, Seahawks games have gone under by an average of 11 points per game. In Week 6, they host the pass-heavy Patriots as 4-point underdogs with an over/under currently listed at 43.5.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: CONTENDER OR PRETENDER?
The Vikings entered the season with just 32-to-1 odds to win the NFC North and a win total of only 6.
After five weeks that have them tied atop the division at 4-1, they’re two games ahead of the mighty Packers and only three victories away from surpassing their win total.
But how much should we buy into Minnesota’s early-season success?
While victories over San Francisco and Detroit were impressive, the Vikings still needed overtime to take care of Jacksonville and fell to Indianapolis on the road. In other words, the week-to-week consistency needs to improve.
The Vikings have a lot of tough games on deck and could still finish 7-9 despite the hot start. They have four games remaining against division mates Chicago and Green Bay along with road trips to Houston, Seattle and St. Louis.
It’s close, but we’re leaving Minnesota in the “pretender” category. For now.
COULD THE COLTS REALLY ‘LUCK’ THEIR WAY INTO THE PLAYOFFS?
Andrew Luck is good.
No, like, really good.
Through four games, ESPN Stats & Info says Luck has an average total QBR of 77.6, by far the highest of any recent No. 1 overall pick. Even with a standout rookie season last year, Cam Newton was at only 43.3 through four games.
But here’s the question that matters most: Could Luck possibly lead Indianapolis back to the playoffs?
After their shocking 30-27 win over Green Bay in comeback fashion, the Colts are now 2-2 and have the Jets, Browns, Titans, Dolphins and Jaguars over the next five weeks. If they can win three or four of those games, a wild-card spot behind Houston in the AFC South could become a realistic possibility.
ODDS & ENDS
- Is the NFC South the worst division in football? Atlanta is a perfect 5-0, but the other three teams have combined for a 3-11 record. Honorable mention: AFC West, which has combined for just seven total wins.
- Aside from the Lions (0-4 ATS), Green Bay and Tennessee have been the worst ATS teams so far this season, posting identical 1-4 ATS marks.