Panthers' Key Match-ups against Seahawks

The Carolina Panthers are coming off one of their worst losses of the season and now must face the Super Bowl Champions, who are not playing their best football either. These are three key match-ups worth watching on Sunday and ones that could decide the outcome of the game.

Russell Wilson vs. Panthers Defensive Line

Before this season, Russell Wilson was viewed as a "game manager", A quarterback who could make solid decisions and was basically asked to just not make mistakes. After winning the Super Bowl, perception has changed and Wilson is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

One aspect of his game that has made him so dangerous, is the fact that Wilson is picking up huge chunk of yards scrambling and running the ball. Over the past three weeks, Wilson has averaged 80 yards per game rushing to go along with three rushing touchdowns. The Carolina Panthers as a team is only averaging 89.9 yards per game rushing and has four rushing touchdowns this year.

The best way to stop Russell Wilson running the ball is to keep him in the pocket. The Carolina Panthers defensive line will have to be cautiously aggressive when rushing Wilson. The focus will have to be trying to sack the Seahawks quarterback but not get up field so quick that he has running lanes to escape the pocket. The Panthers need to find a way to keep Wilson in the pocket and not beat them with his feet.

 

Kelvin Benjamin vs. Legion of Boom

Depending on how much Kelvin Benjamin is moved around the field will depend on who is lined up against the rookie. Seattle keeps Richard Sherman on one side of the field so teams, like Green Bay in Week 1, will put their second or third wide receiver on that side of the field. The thought would be that this can great a favorable match-up on the other side of the field.

Benjamin seems to improve every week and has gone up against some quality cornerbacks so far this year like Leon Hall and Kyle Fuller. However, he has not faced a secondary as talented as this. The Seahawks have two big cornerbacks with RIchard Sherman at 6'3" and Byron Maxwell at 6'1" but Benjamin still has the size advantage over them at 6'5". He will need to us this size difference if he hopes to be successful against the Seahawks.

 

Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart vs. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright

The Panthers need to get back to what they did against the Bengals, which is rely heavily on the read option and pound the ball on the ground. It won't be easy considering the Seahawks are one of the best in the league in stopping the run. However, the Panthers need to at least show the threat of run to keep the Seahawks defense guessing and so they are not allowed to drop 7 or 8 into coverage.

If the Panthers are going to be successful they will need to get by two tackling machines on Seattle in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. According to Pro Football Focus, these two linebackers have combined for 82 tackles this year but only missed seven tackles. The Panthers are going to have to rely on mis-direction run plays in hopes to get the linebackers selling out in one direction and bring the play back the other way.

 

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