There may not be a more important player for the Carolina Panthers' offense than left tackle Michael Oher. The biggest weak line during the Panthers' two games against the Seahawks last year was Byron Bell as he tried to slow down the Seahawks pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, Bell allowed 3 sacks and 10 QB hurries between those two games and a number of times Cam Newton was left scrambling out of the pocket before plays had a chance to develop.
The Panthers' brought in the veteran tackle in hopes to provide stability to the position when they decided not to re-sign Bell. The results haven't been great early on as Oher has struggled and is graded as one of the worst in the league by Pro Football Focus. He actually is the fourth worst left tackle among players in the NFL who have started every game so far this season at the position.
The Seahawks defense is one of the best in the league and they know how to get off quarterbacks. If the Panthers hope to put points on the board, their skill players are going to need time to make plays. Oher will be instrumental in making that happen.
There may not be a player who wants to have a good game against the Seahawks than quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers' quarterback has struggled against this defense in his four career games against them by only completing 55.7% of his passes, averaging 170.75 yards per game and has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions.
There has only been one game where he has gained more than 200 yards, throwing and running the ball, which came in the last game against the Seahawks in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year.
One of the reasons Newton has an opportunity to be successful is the fact that he will be playing behind an improved offensive line. While Oher has had his struggles, the rest of the offensive line has played incredibly well this year. With more time in the pocket, Newton will have the opportunity to find the open target and make the right decision.
This one may be a surprise but if the Panthers want to win, they will need to take a page out of the Seahawks book. They are going to have to control the clock and wear down the Seahawks' defense on the ground. A healthy dose of Jonathan Stewart will be important but the team needs to get the fifth round rookie involved as well.
Entering this season, the thought process was that Stewart would be the featured running back for this offense but Artis-Payne would have a place in this offense and could see his fair share of carries. That hasn't happened yet as he was active for only three of the four games this season.
Against the Bucs, Artis-Payne saw his most work as he carried the ball eight times but only picked up 25 rushing yards. If the Panthers are able to keep it close and run the ball close to 30 times with Artis-Payne accounting for somewhere in the range of 12 of those carries, this offense should have a good chance of improving on their average point total.