Can the Panthers be stout against Seattle’s runners?
Five fearless predictions for Sunday’s Carolina Panthers (6-4) game against the Seattle Seahawks (5-5):
1. LEGION OF ZOOM
Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess is doubtful after dealing with a back injury all week. Carolina doesn’t have a natural fit at the No. 1, or “X,” to take over his snaps but will rotate speedsters DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and potentially Damiere Byrd into the position. That means the Panthers have the opportunity to come out of the gate hot and keep up the speed all game.
Seattle is middle-of-the-pack in both interceptions this year (10) and sacks (28), so Sunday presents a great opportunity for quarterback Cam Newton to have a clean pocket and take care of the ball. That will keep the Panthers away from momentumshifting plays in their opponents’ favor.
3. A ‘PENNY’ FOR PANTHERS’ THOUGHTS
The Seahawks’ rushing game has become a threat behind Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis. Each back has more than 300 rushing yards this season, and their ability is a huge concern for a Panthers defense that has struggled to tackle cleanly and prevent extra yards. The Panthers will allow a 100-yard single rusher for the second time this season, but instead of lead back Carson, it will be the rookie, Penny.
4. SAMUEL IN STRIDE
Second-year receiver Curtis Samuel has been incredibly productive in limited snaps for the Panthers, scoring a touchdown on 24 percent of his touches. That will continue Sunday. Samuel will get six targets and catch five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown.
5. PANTHERS BREAK A TWO-GAME LOSING STREAK
Seattle’s run game could present some big problems for the Panthers. But Newton will get the ball in his hands late in the fourth quarter and mount a winning drive that redeems his missed two-point conversion pass from last week. Panthers improve to 7-4 with a 24-17 victory.
Rookie Rashaad Penny is one of three Seattle Seahawks running backs with at least 300 yards rushing this season. He could add to that total Sunday against a Panthers defense that has trouble tackling of late.