CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-0) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-3)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
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Line: Seahawks by 7.
The series: Seattle leads the series 5-2, plus is 2-0 against the Panthers in the postseason. That includes the most recent meeting, the Seahawks’ 31-17 win in the divisional playoffs in January. This is the fifth meeting since 2012. The Seahawks have played Carolina more than any other non-division team in that span. The last three regular-season matchups have been slogs: 16-12, 12-7 and 3-9 wins for Seattle. The Panthers have not won in four games – two in the playoffs – in Seattle.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
FINISH!: It’s all the Seahawks have been saying since the postgame locker room last weekend in Ohio. LB K.J. Wright suggested complacency and a "we got this" mindset it was may have doomed Seattle in recent games. If they have a lead in the fourth quarter and add on, all the meetings and coaches and soul-searching this week will have been worth it. If not…the Seahawks may end up 2-4.
Live and learn: You can bet all the leaves along Tobacco Road that Carolina will do with tight end Greg Olsen what Cincinnati did last week with tight end Tyler Eifert: Send him down the middle of the field on combination routes with wide receivers running diversions short in front of safety Kam Chancellor. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard all but admitted the Bengals beat his coverage schemes on those routes and vowed to fix the flaws, perhaps with Seattle’s cornerbacks not having so much deep inside responsibility. The Panthers and Cam Newton will test the Seahawks’ learning on this.
Job sharing: It’s a quandary Seattle’s never had in the six seasons with Marshawn Lynch – but has now with Lynch returning from two missed games (hamstring): How to give his backup opportunities? After two 100-yard rushing days while Lynch was out, Thomas Rawls has earned more than token appearances in the backfield spelling the starter. Not that this needs to be a 50-50 split, but the Seahawks should give Rawls 10 or so carries to keep his momentum and motivation going. If Lynch gets, say, 18 or more on top of that, Seattle is winning.
The pick: Seahawks 16-9. No one is going to call a game in mid-October must-win. But this is as close to one that a two-time defending conference champion can have. The defense carries the team – yet again – in another low-scoring slog with the Panthers.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
31 Kam Chancellor SS 6-3 232 sixth
He’s ticked at what CIN did to him with its TE. CAR is going to do the same with TE Greg Olsen
72 Michael Bennett DE 6-4 274 seventh
Owes his team one – or 3 – after flag for mauling Dalton. Must contain Newton from getting outside
15 Jermaine Kearse WR 6-1 209 fourth
Scores a TD almost every time he plays CAR, which has been often lately. Look for him to do it again
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
1 Cam Newton QB 6-5 245 fifth
He’s running more than he ever has. That might be his way to finally beat Seattle (he’s 0-3)
88 Greg Olsen TE 6-5 253 ninth
Will attempt to do what Bengals TE Eifert did last week: Burn SEA deep down the middle
24 Josh Norman CB 6-0 195 fourth
NFC’s defensive player of month, then 1st wk of Oct. 4 INTs, 2 returned for TDs. Jumps routes