I’m really interested to watch two things Sunday: How well the Seahawks rush Cam Newton and how well the Panthers contain running back Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks decimated Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in the first half of their game – sacking him an astonishing eight times. Newton and his offensive line have quite a task in front of them.
Lynch is having a Pro Bowl type of year so far for the Seahawks – the least number of rushing yards he had had in any game this year is 85. Lynch has only two fewer rushing yards by himself as DeAngelo Williams, Newton and Jonathan Stewart do put together (423 for Lynch, 425 for the Panthers’ trio). I think Lynch and Newton will have more to do with who wins this game than any other players, including Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, whose main focus will be not to lose the game for Seattle.
Because Seattle’s run defense is so good – the Seahawks are No. 2 in the NFL in yards per carry (2.99) – Newton’s arm will be as important as it ever has been. This is the sort of game where a player like Brandon LaFell really needs to make a difference on a play or two for Carolina.
• Justin Medlock has an important job Sunday – kick the ball all the way out of the end zone so Seattle’s Leon Washington can’t get to it.
Washington is one of the most dangerous kickoff return men in the game, averaging an astonishing 37.7 yards per kickoff return so far this season.
He’s good on punt returns, too. The Panthers’ coverage teams have been improved this season, but Washington will really test them.
• Carolina-Seattle fact that may be fascinating only to me: When the two teams last played in 2010 (and Seattle won), Seattle’s kicker was Olindo Mare.
• Prediction time: I missed the Panthers’ result the first two weeks and have hit it the past two.
Sunday’s pick: Carolina 24, Seattle 20.