As the Seahawks await their first matchup against the Carolina Panthers, the haunting memories of their post-season battle with the Panthers’ division foe still lingers in the minds of many. On January 13, 2013 the Seattle Seahawks were defeated by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs. The game was remembered by a non-existent Seahawks Offense in the first half and flashbacks of “Icing” Falcons kicker Matt Bryant with seconds left in the 4th quarter. This Sunday, the Hawks will attempt to forget about their post-season loss and move forward with the start of a new season.
Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, and Cliff Avril are expected to start week 1 despite injury concerns throughout the pre-season. The offensive presence of Rice and Miller are much needed against a young and improving Panthers’ defense and Avril’s presence will be significant in providing the pass rush on Panthers QB Cam Newton. Although the Panthers are recovering from a sub-par season last year, their defense deserves respect. Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly led the league in combined tackles last year and had a fantastic pre-season recording 10 combined tackles, 2 pass deflections, 1 interception, and a forced fumble. Joining Kuechly on the Panthers defense is rookie DT Star Lotulelei. Lotulelei is a powerful defensive lineman with lots of potential but the Seahawks inside O-line should be able to keep him in check for the most part. Expect the Seahawks offense to adjust to these playmakers and put up points. Yards on the ground may be hard to gain for RB Marshawn Lynch against the Panthers this week but QB Russell Wilson will find a way to avoid pressure and pass with ease.
The same defensive success the Seahawks experienced last year, should carry over. The Hawks have no problem shutting down opposing running backs and look for the same outcome this Sunday. It will be interesting to see how speedy and undersized Panthers WR Steve Smith stacks up against the physicality of the Legion of Boom, and how Cam Newton responds to the result of this matchup. Will Newton look to running the ball and targeting WR Brandon Lafell more frequently if Steve Smith is shutdown? All of our questions will be answered on Sunday, and regardless of their answers it should be a fun game to watch.
Here’s to a fresh start and a new and exciting season, GO HAWKS!