Stay Dedicated to the Run
The Seahawks two losses came in Week 6 this season against the Dallas Cowboys (30-23) and in Week 16 last year against the Arizona Cardinals (17-10). In both of those games, the Cowboys and Cardinals were able to come away with wins because they stayed dedicated to their run game. The Cowboys ran the ball 36 times with their star running back DeMarco Murray carrying the ball 28 times.
The Cardinals meanwhile didn’t have a running back on the same level as Murray but they were able to get similar production running the ball 43 times; splitting carries between Andre Ellington (15 carries) and Rashard Mendenhall (21 carries).
These are major contrasts from the Seahawks seven wins this season at home. In those games, opponents only averaged 20.7 carries per game. There was also only one team (San Francisco) who ran the ball more than 25 times.
The Panthers have done an excellent job of sticking with the run game over their five-game win streak. Over this stretch, they have averaged 38.6 carries per game, which is well above the 21.5 carries per game they averaged over the first 13 games.
Be Effective with the Run
It is all great to say the offense is going to run the ball 35+ times per game but if the running back is only picking up a yard or two per carry, the likelihood of winning in Seattle is not good.
The two times the Seahawks lost at home, they gave up 162 yards to the Cowboys and 139 yards to the Cardinals. In the seven wins the Seahawks had at home in 2014 they only allowed opponents to run for an average of 63.2 yards per game. Once again only one team (San Francisco) was able to run for over 100 yards but unable to come away with a win.
The Panthers meanwhile have been one of the best running teams in the league over the final part of the season. This should play right into Carolina’s offensive game plan as they have averaged 197 yards per game in these past five games. Jonathan Stewart has been the team’s workhorse but with DeAngelo Williams coming back last week and the mobility of Cam Newton, the Panthers should have success on the ground.
Win Time of Possession
All three of these points are connected in some way and usually when a team is able to run the ball well, it eats up clock. This gives the opposition, like Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense, less time to operate when they are on the field.
Both times the Seahawks lost at home the past two years, the Cowboys (37:39) and the Cardinals (37:24) held the ball for almost two-thirds of the game. Meanwhile, in the Seahawks seven wins at home, the 49ers was the only team to hold the ball for more than half the game (31:02). The other six opponents Seattle faced had a time of possession that was less than 28 minutes.
Thanks to the Panthers strong run game over their win streak, they have also been able to win the time of possession battle. In each one of those games, the Panthers had the ball on offense more than thirty minutes and four of those five games, the Panthers had the ball over 36 minutes.
It is no secret that winning in Seattle is a very tough task. The Seahawks had a bye last week and will be well-rested ahead of their matchup with the Carolina Panthers. However, this team has been successful at the exact formula that has caused Seattle to stumble at home.
If the Panthers are able to stay dedicated to the run game, be effective with those carries and keep Russell Wilson on the sidelines, they have to like their chances Saturday night.