The Seattle Seahawks are a lucky football team today. Their 10-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings was a nail-biter (via NFL) throughout, which ended with a missed field goal by the Vikings’ Blair Walsh, that iced the victory for the Seattle Seahawks. Iced represented more than just a football game.
Frigid temperatures that were minus-six degrees at game time made the Seattle Seahawks versus Minnesota Vikings’ game the third-coldest game in NFL history according to NBC’s Minneapolis-St. Paul affiliate, Kare 11. The conditions would later have an effect on every element of the football game. This included the kicking game.
Griping the football became a hassle for both the Seahawks and Vikings players. It would not be surprising if the cold temperatures factored into Walsh’s missed field goal from a makable 27 yards away. The kick would have given the Vikings a stunning upset win and changed the expected course of the NFC Playoffs.
Now that the Seattle Seahawks has survived the Vikings and the frozen tundra of the outdoors in Minnesota, can they defeat the top-seeded Carolina Panthers, or will they struggle?
Despite being at home with the frigid temperatures, the Vikings were an underdog against the Seahawks for a reason. Their offense is a work in progress. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is still learning the position. He relies heavily on the running game with Adrian Peterson leading the charge. Peterson struggled with the Seattle Seahawks stripping the football away from him. It was his fumble which gave the Seahawks ample field position to score.
Such opportunities for the Seattle Seahawks may not come against the Panthers. Carolina was far and away the best team in football in the giveaway and takeaway ratio. They took the football away 39 times, coughing it up only 19 times.
The Seattle Seahawks have not created turnovers this season the way they once did. Their 22 takeaways pale in comparison to the 39 turnovers they generated in their Super Bowl winning season. Getting takeaways next week will be difficult for the Seahawks, as Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has only thrown to opposing teams 10 times out of 495 pass attempts. Two of Newton’s interceptions came against the Seahawks defense, though that seemed like so long ago.
Since the game at Century Link Field, Cam Newton has connected for 27 touchdowns versus six interceptions. He is a different quarterback from when the two teams faced each other back on October 18th.
Since the Panthers do not make a bevy of mistakes, the Seattle Seahawks must capitalize on any opportunity that comes. If it is the field position game that the Seahawks can exploit, or the difference in playoff experience, any advantage Seattle has will work in their favor.
Playoff experience aside, the Seahawks have to be wary of how much the Carolina Panthers have matured.
Throw out the 7-3 all-time edge that the Seattle Seahawks enjoy over the Panthers. Carolina is looking to prove that they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Around this time last year, it was the Carolina Panthers, who had to travel to Seattle for the NFL Divisional Round. This year it is the Seahawks, who will make the near 2,800 mile trek to Bank of America Stadium. The Seattle Seahawks are 5-3 on the road this season. In each of those losses, the Seahawks had to travel at least 1,935 miles.
The availability of running back Marshawn Lynch will play a huge role also.
Lynch has only been available for the Seahawks in seven games. He has struggled in all but one of his appearances. Marshawn Lynch was initially a go for the playoff game against the Vikings, yet the Seattle Times would later report that he was going to miss the game. It was an abdominal injury that kept him out. Lynch did not even travel with the team to Minnesota.
If he suffered a setback from having midseason hernia surgery, then the Seahawks might be in trouble providing balance to their offensive attack versus the Panthers. Lynch may not recover in time for the Panthers game. If he can play next week, then Carolina will have to scheme for him. Winning in Carolina will be difficult if we are judging solely on Seattle’s performance in Minnesota.
The Seattle Seahawks survived the Minnesota Vikings along with the elements in order to play another week. Their next stop is in Carolina, where a Carolina Panthers team is will be looking to send them back home. Something tells me that the Seattle Seahawks will be in a struggle.
[Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport]