The Carolina Panthers (8-8-1) travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks (12-4) in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs on Saturday night. This will serve as a rematch between these two when the Seahawks bested the Panthers 13-9 in Charlotte earlier this season. However, this game will feature a different venue, and the stakes will be a lot higher.
Much like how Carolina exorcised its playoff demons against Arizona last week, the same can be said of this week's match at Seattle. After all, the Panthers lost to the Seahawks in the 2006 NFC Championship Game, and it only makes sense to rectify that loss.
Seattle is a heavy favorite this weekend, as Carolina will have its hands full in trying to stop the talented Seahawks and combating the noise level generated by the home crowd, also known as the 12th Man. This could realistically be the end of the Panthers' playoff run, but this team is determined to go down with a fight.
Carolina will rely on the defense to keep the game close. The Panthers haven't played in Seattle since 2010, but the last three matches have been close affairs with the Seahawks taking each game. Bucking the trend in the postseason would change things up in this recent rivalry and perhaps alter the perception of Carolina moving forward.
Cam Newton will be seeking his second postseason victory, and earning it over the defending Super Bowl champions would be a bright spot to his resume. It won't be easy against a strong Seattle defense and one that features the infamous Legion of Boom, but Newton is ready to take on all challenges that lie ahead.
With a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line, does Carolina have what it takes to pull off the biggest upset of the weekend?
The following game preview will explore the news leading up to this week's game, the matchups to watch and predict the victor between Carolina and Seattle.