Sunday Night Football: Large spread favors Seahawks over Panthers

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Based on each team’s history with large lines, Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks and Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers might be in for a tight game. The Seahawks opened as a 6.5-point favorite against the visiting Panthers for the Sunday night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Seattle is 7-2 straight-up and 6-3 against the spread in their last nine games as a favorite of 6.5 points or more, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, and all three ATS losses have come in the past 12 months. By the same token, Carolina is 2-5-1 SU but 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight outings where oddsmakers spotted them 6.5 or more points.

Carolina, at 4-7 SU and 3-6-2 SU, is having a post-Super Bowl malaise. The convenient narrative that their offensive line was exposed during the Super Bowl 50 defeat against the Denver Broncos is backed up statistically, as Newton has been sacked 27 times.

The Seahawks, with their combo of DE Cliff Avril and DE Michael Bennett, should be able to exert some edge pressure. While WR Kelvin Benjamin can expect to have CB Richard Sherman in his face, Seattle FS Earl Thomas (hamstring) and CB DeShawn Shead (hamstring) are nearing a return to the lineup.

The playmaking of Newton, along with creative use of slippery WR Ted Ginn, are wild cards for Carolina, which is 3-0-1 ATS on the NFL betting lines in its last four games against Seattle. Jonathan Stewart, along with Newton, gives Carolina stable rushing output.

Seattle is 7-3-1 SU and 5-5-1 ATS as it vies to regain the NFC West title. Carolina is third in the NFL in sacks, thanks in large part to OLB Thomas Davis, DE Mario Addison and DT Star Lotulelei, so they stand a good chance of containing Wilson. The Panthers’ chances will also improve if MLB Luke Kuechly and SS Kurt Coleman each complete concussion protocol and return to solidify the second level of their defense.

The Seahawks offense is inconsistent but certainly not wanting for weapons in the passing phase, as WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham are facing the NFL’s 29th-ranked pass defense. The Seahawks are almost as bad (27th) at running the ball; Thomas Rawls is the starter mostly by default with promising C.J. Prosise (scapula) injured.

The total has gone OVER in nine of the Panthers’ last 10 games as road underdogs. The total has gone OVER in the Panthers’ last three games against the Seahawks

Vince Young wants to play again, hires agent Leigh Steinberg

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Vince Young is hoping his football career isn’t over.

Young has hired agent Leigh Steinberg, who announced on Twitter today that Young has a “dream of playing more football.”

That Steinberg used the word “dream” suggests that he and Young realize it will be an uphill battle to get back to the NFL. Young hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2011, when he threw four touchdown passes and nine interceptions for the Eagles. He has spent time with the Bills, Packers and Browns since then but never made it past the preseason.

The fledgling Spring League has already said it would be interested in Young, so he’s got someone interested in him. But the Spring League is a long, long way from the NFL. It’s highly likely that Young has played his last NFL game, even if, at age 33, he’s not quite ready to say definitively that he’s done.

Report: NFL invited Chad Kelly to Combine, then rescinded invitation

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Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was not invited to the Scouting Combine. Or perhaps he was invited, only to later learn it was a non-vite or an un-vitation.

According to Bill Polian of ESPN, Kelly initially was invited to the Combine, only to have that invitation rescinded by the league office. Polian, who signed Chad’s uncle Jim Kelly in 1986 and has been close to Kelly’s family for decades, indicated that the family isn’t sure why the invitation was rescinded.

It’s obvious why Kelly won’t be at the Combine: The NFL implemented a new rule this year that players who have been convicted of violent crimes won’t be permitted, and Kelly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct two years ago as part of a case in which he was initially accused of punching two people, threatening to shoot up a bar with an AK-47 and resisting arrest.

What’s unclear is why the league would initially invite Kelly, only to rescind that invitation later. It may be that this new policy hasn’t been thoroughly considered, and the league is still deciding which types of offenses merit exclusion from the Combine. A disorderly conduct plea might not necessarily keep a player from the Combine, but when that plea stemmed from an incident in which the player was initially accused of violence and serious threats, the NFL steers clear.