NFL Week 13 Preview: Panthers vs. Seahawks
Another week, another close game, another missed opportunity for the Panthers as their comeback attempt came up just short during Week 12 in Oakland. After dropping a must-win game against the Raiders, Carolina will stay out west as they head to Century Link Field for a matchup against the Seahawks. Seattle comes into Sunday with a record of 7-3-1 after only managing 5 points in their last game against Tampa Bay. These two squads are very familiar with each other, as they’ve faced off in the divisional round of the playoffs the past two seasons. The Panthers won both games against Seattle during the regular season and playoffs during 2015 but only Seattle appears primed for another run in the playoffs as the 2016 season approaches its final quarter.
Which version of these teams will show up in Week 13?
The Panthers first half performance against the Raiders showed just how awful a football team they can be at times. 30 minutes of football later they showed just how good of a team they could potentially be when it all comes together on both sides of the ball. Cam Newton threw for 18 yards in the first half but finished the game with 246 yards and two passing TDs. The Panthers outscored the Raiders 25 to 11 in the second half and were a Greg Olsen catch inside the 20 away from at least sending the game to overtime.
The Seahawks looked like the best team in the NFL a couple games ago on the road against the Patriots. They followed that performance up with another solid win against Philadelphia. In their last game, Seattle looked like the inferior team against a mediocre Tampa Bay squad with an even more mediocre pass rush that dominated the Seahawks offensive line for most of the game. Inconsistency has plagued both teams all season long but only the Seahawks have managed to still be able to win games despite the up and down play.
Can Carolina compete despite the injuries?
The Panthers have arguably been the team most plagued by injuries this season and it continues to get worse each week. On Sunday, the Panthers will start only one offensive lineman playing in his true position and Tyler Larsen, the likely starter for Sunday, has never played center in an NFL game. That’s horrible news for an already struggling running game and even more horrible for Cam Newton who’s on pace to be sacked more than he ever has in a season. Newton may also be without his top threat at receiver with Kelvin Benjamin being listed as a game time decision due to a shoulder injury. Richard Sherman and the Seahawks defense will be looking for revenge for last season’s playoff loss, therefore Cam Newton will have to be near perfect if Carolina wants to keep it close.
On defense, Luke Kuechly will miss his second straight game due to a concussion and starting safety Kurt Coleman will miss Sunday’s game due to a concussion as well. The team’s leader in sacks, Mario Addison, will also be out during week 13. The front four has been playing better in recent weeks and it will have to win the battle in the trenches in an effort to take the pressure off the secondary. This team has done a great job of competing despite playing with practice players and reserves all season but it’ll be as tough as it’s been all season on Sunday with their best players out at every level on defense.
Carolina is missing too much on defense to have a chance at winning on the road. Seahawks have to win in order to have a chance at a bye in the first round of the playoffs and that motivation should be enough to get them the win.
Final Score: Seahawks 27-17