Seattle-Carolina: 5 Things You Need To Know
Now we get to see what the Super Bowl champs can do in the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks face the Carolina Panthers, winners of five straight games, as they begin their trek back toward the title game.
Seattle is peaking at the right time, using a stinging defense – the same one that allowed them to claim their first world title last season – along with a growing offense, led by Russell Wilson.
Carolina’s bread and butter is a defense that has grown stronger over the season. On offense, Cam Newton is the catalyst that runs the ship. Add a better running game with Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers came out of nowhere to claim the NFC South.
Here are five things to know about this game.
With the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks facing each other in an NFC Divisional Playoff, the mayors of the two cities have made a wager on the outcome of the game.
The winner of the game advances to the NFC Championship. The winner of the bet gets mementos from the losing city.
Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter bet Seattle Mayor Ed Murray that the Panthers will defeat the defending Super Bowl champions.
"Four years ago, the Seahawks were the first team to ever end the regular season with a losing record and then beat the defending Super Bowl champions in the playoffs," Clodfelter said. "And the Panthers are going to do the same thing to them that they did to New Orleans. I have no doubt about it."
FOOT INJURY SIDELINES LOTULELEI
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei fractured his foot at the end of Tuesday's practice and will not play when Carolina faces Seattle in an NFC Divisional Playoff.
"He stepped on somebody's foot and rolled his at the very end of practice," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He had surgery this morning to repair it."
Rivera said Lotulelei needs at least two weeks to heal. If the Panthers win two more games, there is a chance Lotulelei could be available for the Super Bowl.
Rivera is confident in the defensive line despite losing Lotulelei.
A GAME IN THE MIDDLE
According to Seahawks.com, there’s Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly, the inside linebackers on the All-Pro team that was announced last week. There’s also the weak-side duo of K.J. Wright and Thomas Davis, who also produced 100-plus tackles during the regular season. And then there are the diverse talents of strong-side ’backers Bruce Irvin and A.J. Klein.
Between them, they produced 587 tackles, 16 sacks and three interceptions during the regular season to propel their teams into the postseason – Wagner, Wright and Irvin for the Seahawks; Kuechly, Davis and Klein for the Panthers.
Seattle beat Carolina 13-9 the secondary for the Panthers looked nothing like it does now.
Panthers cornerbacks Bene Benwikere and Carrington Byndom, as well free safety Tre Boston are three first-year players who helped ignite Carolina's current five-game win streak.
Since the Panthers' rookie trio has had their roles increase, the team's pass defense has seen significant improvement. Through the club's past five games - all wins, with Benwikere, Byndom, and Boston in the mix, the Panthers have given up 154.8 passing yards per game. In the team's previous six games - all losses, the secondary was surrendering an average of 234.7 yards through the air - a 79.9-yard difference.
No matter how much I would love to pick Carolina in this game, the team’s five-game win streak ends in Seattle.
While the Panthers may have a better offense, the Seahawks defense will be more than they can handle. Add the home field advantage and Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch and well, that says it all. Carolina should be able to keep the game close.
SEATTLE 27 CAROLINA 25