Three things to watch in Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game against the Seattle Seahawks:
Will the defenses show up?
Remember – way back to last season – when these two teams had the league’s first- and second-ranked defenses? The Seahawks haven’t fallen as far as the Panthers, who are near the bottom in nearly every defensive category. But Seattle isn’t getting the pressure or takeaways like it did during its Super Bowl season. The Seahawks have seven sacks in six games. They’ll try to find their pass rush against a Panthers offensive line missing both first-team guards and starting four undrafted free agents.
Newton vs. the Legion of Boom
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Cam Newton has had the two lowest passing-yardage games of his career against the Seahawks, finishing with 141 yards and 125 yards in the 2012 and 2013 losses, respectively. Newton struggled mightily two years ago, completing 12 of 29 passes and finishing with a 56.8 passer rating. The Panthers were driving late in the game before Newton fired a pass at the feet of tight end Ben Hartsock in the end zone. Newton said this week he would not be afraid to throw at cornerback Richard Sherman, who looked vulnerable when San Diego’s Philip Rivers went at him early in the season.
Wilson vs. the Legion of Gloom
Last week, Aaron Rodgers carved up the Panthers’ secondary, which allowed him to complete 19 of 22 throws. General manager Dave Gettleman shook things up this week, releasing veteran safety Charles Godfrey, who was miscast as a nickel corner. Gettleman might have waited a week until rookie nickel Bené Benwikere was healthy. As it is, recently reacquired James Dockery will get the start. But the player Wilson figures to target is Antoine Cason, the league’s lowest-rated corner in Pro Football Focus’ rankings.