The Province

Seahawks look for wild card boost

Road test against Panthers might be key

- STEVE REED

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The good news for the Carolina Panthers is they return home today to face the Seattle Seahawks where they have won 10 straight games.

The bad news is it’s highly unlikely the Panthers will play a playoff game in Charlotte if they reach the post-season. The Seahawks (5-5) can relate.

They and the Panthers (6-4) essentiall­y find themselves competing for wild-card spots in the NFC with six games remaining given their chances of winning a division title and hosting a post-season game appear remote.

Carolina has lost two straight on the road and fallen 3½ games behind New Orleans in the NFC South, while the Seahawks trail the Los Angeles Rams by 4½ games in the NFC West.

“Right now, we can’t worry about what New Orleans is doing. We can’t worry about the playoff picture. We just have to win a game,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said. “In this league, it’s so easy to get caught up in, ‘If this team wins, if this team loses, (then) we can have home-field (advantage) . ... Hey, if we don’t win some games, we’re not going to be in the playoffs.”

In terms of wild-card implicatio­ns, this game looms as large as any in the NFC.

Currently, the Panthers would be one wild-card team, while the Minnesota Vikings would be the other. But that could all change if the Seahawks continue their recent dominance over the Panthers.

Russell Wilson is 5-2 against Cam Newton and Carolina.

He has averaged 270.3 yards passing per game with 11 touchdown passes and six intercepti­ons. Newton, on the other hand, has struggled mightily against the Seahawks with nine turnovers and only five TD passes.

The Panthers realize they need to get some pressure on Wilson and make him uncomforta­ble in the pocket.

That hasn’t been Carolina’s strength this season as it ranks 23rd in the league in sacks entering the week with 23. Carolina isn’t getting much penetratio­n inside, where defensive tackle Kawann Short has gone nine straight games without a sack after registerin­g two in the season opener against Dallas.

Seattle has the top running game in the NFL and it continues to be a collaborat­ive effort. Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis all have had 100yard games this season.

Carson is clearly the primary ball carrier and had 17 carries for 83 yards in Seattle’s win over Green Bay last week. But Penny has been earning more opportunit­ies as his rookie year has progressed, and Davis was the closer for Seattle against the Packers as the one getting carries on the final drive.

 ?? — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Russell Wilson is 5-2 against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. He has averaged 270.3 yards passing per game with 11 touchdown passes and six intercepti­ons.
— THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Russell Wilson is 5-2 against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. He has averaged 270.3 yards passing per game with 11 touchdown passes and six intercepti­ons.

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