A look at the Seahawks' opponent in their divisional playoff game, the Carolina Panthers:
When: Saturday, 5:15 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 7-8-1 and NFC South champions during the regular season.
Playoffs: Defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-16 in a wild-card game last Saturday.
What's At Stake: The winner of Saturday night's game advances to the NFC Championship game against the winner of Sunday's game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys in Green Bay.
Where They Ranked: No. 16 on offense during the regular season (7th rushing, 19th passing); No. 10 on defense (16th rushing, 11th passing).
TV: FOX (channel 13 in Seattle), with Kevin Burkhardt (play-by-play), John Lynch (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline)
Series: Seahawks lead 1-0 in the postseason, as they defeated the Panthers 34-14 in the NFC Championship game in Seattle after the 2005 season. Seahawks also lead 5-2 during the regular season, including a 13-9 victory in Charlotte in Week 8 this season.
Luke Kuechly.** The Panthers' All-Pro linebacker and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year was the selection before the Week 8 game against the Seahawks and nothing has changed. Kuechly led the league in tackles this season with 153, then added 10 more in the wild-card win over the Cardinals – when he also intercepted a pass and tipped another that was picked off in the end zone by rookie safety Tre Boston. But Kuechly's tackling-machine act is nothing new. As a rookie, when he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, he had 205 tackles. Last year, it was 176. But this season, Kuechly added three sacks and an interception during the regular season. The only other players in league history to be voted Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year: Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Lawrence Taylor, Dana Stubblefield, Charles Woodson, Brian Urlacher and Terrell Suggs. And the Seahawks are well aware of the mayhem Kuechly can unleash. He had seven tackles against them in Week 8 this season; 10 in the 2013 season opener; and 16 in 2012. All of that from such a player who looks like the proverbial boy next door. "He's Clark Kent," defensive tackle Star Lotulelei told Panthers.com this season. "It's a privilege to play with him."
Thomas Davis. With everything that Kuechly does, it's easy to overlook the contributions of the Panthers' other linebacker. Until the game starts, that is. Davis was second on the team with 100 tackles this season, 151 tackles last season and 118 in 2012. And, like Kuechly, Davis has had some of his most-productive games against the Seahawks: a game-high 10 tackles in Week 8 this season; 14 in the opener last season; and eight in 2012. All of this has helped Davis rank No. 2 in tackles in the 20-season history of the franchise with 802.
On The Spot
Photos of the Seattle Seahawks playing the Carolina Panthers.
Cam Newton.** He won the first playoff game of his four-season NFL career against the Cardinals, but it didn't exactly come with style points as Newton was 18 of 32 for 198 yards. He threw two TD passes, but also an interception. And he also ran seven times for 35 yards. But this week is different, because there is more on the line and the defense he'll be facing this Saturday is better than the one he saw last Saturday. In three regular-season matchups against the Seahawks, Newton has not had a 200-yard passing performance, let alone a 300-yarder. His passer rating in going 0-3 against the Seahawks is 70.6, because Newton has completed 54 percent of his passes (40 of 74) and averaged 145.7 passing yards. He's also been sacked eight times. And all of that happened before the hometown fans in Charlotte. Saturday, Newton will have to deal with the din generated by the 12s at CenturyLink Field in addition to a Seahawks defense that led the league in average points allowed for the third consecutive season and average yards and passing yards allowed for the second time in the past two seasons.
Will either team score 17 points in this game? And will 17 points be enough to win? It's worth asking after the Seahawks have won the past three meetings 13-9, 12-7 and 16-12. It's also worth asking because the Seahawks have allowed an average of 6.5 points during their six-game winning streak to close the regular season and the Panthers are allowing an average of 11.8 points during their five-game winning streak.
Numbers To Know
2, rookie starters on the Panthers' offensive line - LG Andrew Norwell and RG Trai Turner. …401, rushing yards by Jonathan Stewart in December, second in the league only to the Cowboys' DeMarco Murray (418) during the four-game stretch to close the regular season. …539, rushing yards by Newton during the regular season, the fewest of his four-season NFL career. …82.1, Newton's passer rating during the regular season, which ranked 26th in the league. …58.5, Newton's completion percentage, which ranked 29th in the league. …110.3, Newton's fourth-quarter passer rating, which ranked third in the league. …70.7, Newton's passer rating on third downs, which ranked 27th in the league. …84, receptions by Greg Olsen to lead the Panthers and rank third among tight ends in the league. …56, receptions by Olsen that produced first downs. …9, touchdown receptions by Kelvin Benjamin, second-most among rookie receivers. …61, touchbacks on his kickoffs by Graham Gano, which was third in the league. …36.5, net punting average by Brad Nortman, which ranked 32nd in the league. …121-76, points for and against the Panthers in the second quarter. …40**, sacks by the Panthers, from 12 players.
DT Colin Cole started 26 games for the Seahawks in 2009 and 2010. Wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl played the position for the Seahawks in 1995 and 1996. Assistant special teams coach Bruce DeHaven was the Seahawks special teams coordinator from 2007-09. Defensive assistant Curtis Fuller played for the Seahawks in 2001 and 2002.
The Last Word
"We lost the game. You don't get points for keeping it close. We get paid to win games. But we're a good team, and we're a hot team. We've got to keep doing what's been successful for us." – safety Roman Harper, on the Week 8 game against the Seahawks and the Panthers' five-game winning streak