The Carolina Panthers offense will be tested when they square off with the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL’s second-ranked defense at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
Just how good has the Seahawks defense been this season?
Through four games, the Seahawks have only given up an average of 14.5 points per contest. Even more impressive, Pete Carroll’s team, which has yet to allow a 300-yard passer this season, virtually shut down two of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo. In fact, Rodgers looked as frustrated as he’s even been trying to throw the ball on Seattle’s stingy secondary. This doesn’t bode well for Cam Newton if the Panthers take a pass-heavy approach on Sunday.
Carolina’s rushing offense has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde act through the first quarter of the season. It is clear that Jonathan Stewart’s health plays a big role in the team’s success on the ground. With Stewart sidelined against the Bucs and Giants, the Panthers have only managed a combined 70 yards rushing. However, with Stewart active against the Saints and Falcons, the team has rushed for a total of 418 yards. Fortunately, the bruising back should be ready to go against Seattle on Sunday.
While the Seahawks have proven they can shut down a potent passing attack, they haven’t exactly faced any of the best rush attacks in the NFL. Seattle’s four opponents thus far – the Cardinals, Cowboys, Packers and Rams – are all teams who rank among the league’s worst in rushing offense. The Panthers are currently ranked 11th in total rushing offense.
Since last season, Carolina’s recipe for winning has been running the ball effectively and limiting Cam to 30 or fewer pass attempts. Meanwhile, the Seahawks defense has forced more than 30 pass attempts by each of its opposing quarterbacks and has yet to allow an opposing offense to rush for more than 70 yards.
Something has to give.
The Panthers must force their will on the Seattle defense and run the football. If they don’t find success on the ground, this game may look very similar to the Week 1 loss at Tampa Bay. Ron Rivera’s team must stay committed to the run even if they struggle at times moving the ball. The more Cam Newton is asked to throw, the less likely the Panthers are to win the game.
Tomorrow I will preview the Seahawks offense vs. the Panthers defense and make my game prediction.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.