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Five things you need to know about the Seattle Seahawks opponent this week, the Carolina Panthers

While you’re putting away that seventh helping of thanksgiving leftovers, you can enjoy a huge NFC matchup between the Panthers and the Seahawks this Sunday.

This showdown in Carolina puts two of the leading contenders in the NFC wild card logjam against each other. By the end of Sunday afternoon’s contest, the NFC playoff picture become a bit more clearer for these two teams but we may also see some history as well.

Here’s five things you need to know about the Carolina Panthers.

Riverboat Ron’s latest gamble backfires

Panthers head coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera is known for his bold decisions (some would say overly aggressive) when it comes to late-game situations. His latest attempt against the Detroit Lions this past week did not go as planned as the Panthers suffered a 20-19 loss on the road.

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Sunday’s game could be another opportunity for Rivera to do something unpredictable. Will it help or hurt the Panthers?

No concern about Cam Newton’s health

In Sunday’s loss to Detroit, the Panthers QB missed a few snaps with a nasty ankle injury but all indications are that he will be just fine for Sunday’s game. If Newton were to go down again, the backup QB is Taylor Heinicke, who only threw one pass vs. Detroit before Newton returned. If you are wondering who Heinicke is, he’s a third-year pro out of Old Dominion who’s thrown only three passes in his career.

Win by Seattle would by key

Beating Carolina would give Seattle and the Panthers identical 6-5 records and provide the Seahawks with another advantage in a race for a wild card berth. In addition to Carolina, Seattle would have a head-to-head advantage over Detroit, Dallas and Green Bay.

The flipside is the Panthers would ahve a two-game advantage over Seattle (7-4 vs. 5-6) and a head-to-head advantage.

Peppers, Olsen have a shot at history

Should he get two sacks on Sunday, Julius Peppers would pass former Carolina Panthers great Kevin Greene for third on the NFL’s all-time sack list. Peppers, who has four sacks this year, sits fourth with 158.5 sacks for his career. Tight end Greg Olsen needs 96 yards receiving to pass Jackie Smith on the all-time list for receiving yards by a tight end. Olsen, who has been hampered by injuries, is tied for fourth in receptions this season for the Panthers with 24.

Panthers love home cookin’

Beating the Panthers is a tall tasks, especially at home. The Panthers are tied with the New England Patriots for the longest home winning streak in at 10 games.

The 10 a.m. start has been an issue for the Seahawks in the past (not as much in the Pete Carroll era, though). And this season, Seattle has been good away from CenturyLink, going 3-3.

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