The Carolina Panthers travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in a NFC Divisional playoff showdown. Both of these teams enter this matchup on long winning streaks with the Seahawks winning 6 in a row and the Panthers winning 5. They both play a similar brand of football with outstanding defenses, a mobile quarterback, and an excellent running back. The Seahawks will enter this matchup after earning a bye last week while the Panthers needed a second half comeback to defeat the Arizona Cardinals and move on. The Panthers turned the ball over 3 times last week but were able to survive because the Cardinals were forced to start a 3rd string quarterback due to injuries. They will not be able to make the same mistakes this week facing the defending Super Bowl Champions.
The Seahawks defense has limited their last 6 opponents to an average of 7 points per game without allowing any of them to score in the fourth quarter. They have also won the turnover battle by forcing 10 while only committing 5 over the winning streak. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been very consistent and efficient all year by throwing for 20 touchdowns while throwing only 7 interceptions. He is also valuable with his legs as he has averaged over 50 rushing yards a game this year and rushed for another 6 touchdowns. Star running back Marshawn Lynch is having possibly the best year of his career as he rushed for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also developed into a receiving threat as he has caught 4 touchdowns and averages just less than 10 yards per reception.
The Panthers defense led by pro bowler Luke Keuchly has limited its last 5 opponents to an average of 12 points per game and has accumulated 18 sacks over that stretch. Last week the defense put up record breaking numbers by limiting the Cardinals to just 78 yards of offense which is an all-time playoff low. They have also won the turnover battle by forcing 12 while only committing 6. Quarterback Cam Newton has been very efficient by throwing 7 touchdowns to only 2 Interceptions in the last 4 games he has played in and will need to stay efficient if the Panthers have any chance at pulling the upset. Offensively, The running game has blossomed recently by averaging close to 200 yards per game over their last 6 games. They are lead by Jonathan Stewart who has averaged over 100 yards per game over that stretch.
The Seahawks have been practically unbeatable at home during the playoffs as they have won their last 7 home playoff games and the Panthers will need to play almost perfect on both sides of the ball to be able to pull off the upset. The Seahawks will be without defensive tackle Jordan Hill who has 5.5 sacks in his last 6 games. This is good news for the Panthers but Seattle’s defense is the best in the league and will be able to make up for his loss. Both defenses are capable of making game changing plays and while the panthers could keep it close, coming out with a victory is just too much to ask.
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