When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. PDT, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Record: 1-3 after Sunday’s 30-28 loss to the unbeaten Falcons in Atlanta
Where they rank: No. 13 on offense (11th rushing, 14th passing); No. 24 on defense (25th rushing, 22nd passing)
Series: Tied 2-2, but the Panthers have won both games played in Charlotte – 26-3 in 2000 and 13-10 in 2007.
Star power: Cam Newton. The Panthers’ ridiculously talented QB hasn’t exactly picked up where he left off last season, when he was NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after breaking the league rookie record for passing yards (4,051; old mark 3,739 by Peyton Manning in 1998) and putting up the third-highest rookie totals for completions (310) and touchdown passes (21). But Newton has passed for 1,013 yards this season and also shares team-high honors with 167 rushing yards. In Sunday’s loss, he flashed some of his rookie magic by throwing for two TDs and rushing for a career-high 86 yards and another TD. The Seahawks’ No. 3-ranked defense already has faced Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Sam Bradford in its past three games, but they have yet to see anything quite like Newton.
Unsung hero: James Anderson. The Panthers have featured an array of Pro Bowl linebackers in their short history – Sam Mills, Lamar Lathon, Kevin Greene, Dan Morgan, Mark Fields and Jon Beason. But who holds the franchise records for most tackles in a game and a season? It’s Anderson, a third-round draft choice in 2006. Last season, he produced 174 tackles, most ever by a Panther. Two weeks ago, he had 20 tackles against the New York Giants, also the franchise single-game record. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Anderson plays the strong side, with Beason in the middle and first-round draft choice Luke Kuechly on the weak side.
On the spot: The run defense. The Panthers are allowing averages of 134.8 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. Sunday, they’ll run up against the NFL’s leading rusher – Marshawn Lynch, who is averaging 105.8 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry.
Burning question: Who wins on first downs? The Panthers are averaging 7.57 yards on first-down plays, tops in the NFL. The Seahawks are allowing an average of 4.16 yards on first-down plays, which ranks No. 3 in the league. So something has to give here.
Number to know: Eight. The Panthers’ two road losses have come by that many points, as they lost at Tampa 16-10 in their opener and then by two to the Falcons on Sunday. The Seahawks’ two road losses, meanwhile, have come by a combined 10 points – 20-16 to the Cardinals in their opener and 19-13 to the Rams on Sunday.
Familiar faces: Ricky Proehl, the Panthers’ assistant wide receivers coach, played for the Seahawks in 1995-96. Backup center Jeff Byers was with the Seahawks in training camp in 2010.
The last word: “We are a young football team, but at some point you’ve got to get past that because at some point you run out of time. We don’t want to run out of time.” – Panthers coach Ron Rivera
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