The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl darlings heading into the 2013 season, showing up at No. 2 on SB Nation's initial NFL power rankings. The Carolina Panthers are not Super Bowl darlings. They show up at No. 18 coming off a 7-9 season. It should surprise no one, then, that experts have resoundingly sided with the Seahawks to win Sunday's season opener in Charlotte.
Of the 11 ESPN talking heads who submitted their picks, 10 of them are predicting the Seahawks to win. Adam Schefter is the lone dissenter. Oddly enough, the game is his only real deviation from the norm among this weekend's slate of games.
The folks at CBS Sports aren't quite as bullish on the Seahawks, though their nine experts still side with Seattle, 5-4. Senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco was among those who picked the Panthers. According to him, the long trip east could be difficult for the Seahawks to manage:
This is a long, tough trip to open the season for Seattle. Carolina looks to be much improved on defense. Their pass rush could cause problems for Russell Wilson. Seattle is a trendy Super Bowl choice, but Carolina is the team that gets off to the fast start. Cam Newton outplays Wilson here.
The Panthers' defense certainly appears to have improved, especially with the addition of rookie Star Lotulelei up front to eat blockers and allow Luke Kuechly to wreak havoc at middle linebacker. Prisco may be a bit too optimistic about an offense that managed just two offensive touchdowns in their first three games of the preseason, however.