KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 3rd meeting. Series is tied, 1-1, with the most significant meeting coming in the NFC Championship Game after the 2005 season, which Seattle won 34-14 to advance to the Super Bowl.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren is still holding out feint hope his team can chase down a first-round bye, so he won't rest any starters yet. Holmgren will continue to use the pass to set up the run with QB Matt Hasselbeck throwing 17 TDs vs. six INTs the past eight games. And with the Panthers' highly disappointing pass rush this season, Carolina might be powerless to stop him. ... The Panthers are expected to stick with QB Vinny Testaverde for at least one more game, and they desperately need the offense to stay on the field to help an over-worked defense. With the Seahawks second in the NFL in sacks, RBs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams must be productive on the ground to keep the defense honest.
FAST FACTS: Holmgren has become the Seahawks' winningest coach with 84 victories, surpassing Chuck Knox. ... The Panthers have outscored opponents 80-53 in the fourth quarter.
--WR D.J. Hackett has an ankle injury and is out against Carolina.
--CB Josh Wilson has a quad injury and is out against Carolina.
--T Tom Ashworth did not practice Thursday because of illness but should be available to play against the Panthers.
--DT Rocky Bernard did not practice with a sore groin but will play against the Panthers on Sunday.
--G Chris Gray did not practice because of a team decision but will play against the Panthers.
--RB DeAngelo Williams will get more than three carries this week against Seattle, but will not necessarily start or get the majority of tackles. He carried 17 times the week before.
--DE Julius Peppers said Thursday that he doesn't expect his poor season will affect his market value. He is under contract through 2008, but the Panthers are likely to extend his contract.
--WR Keary Colbert (knee) has missed back-to-back practices and will likely be out for Sunday's game.
--WR Dwayne Jarrett (knee) is back to work this week and may see action with Keary Colbert nursing a knee injury.
--RG Jeremy Bridges returned to practice after missing practice Wednesday because of a tooth problem.
--QB Vinny Testaverde did not practice again Thursday. Coach John Fox said right now rest is more important that reps. Testaverde's body is very sore.
--QB Matt Moore may need to start this week against Seattle if Vinny Testaverde can't go.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
The last time the Seattle Seahawks played the Carolina Panthers, in the 2005 NFC championship game, they devised a game plan in which linebacker Kevin Bentley shadowed Steve Smith, hit him as soon as he crossed the line of scrimmage and then stayed with him for as long as possible.
The Seahawks did that because in the divisional playoff game, Smith had 12 receptions for 218 yards and two touchdowns, leading coach Mike Holmgren to approach defensive coordinator John Marshall.
"I went to John early in the week and I said, 'Listen, I'm not going to tell you how to do it because you know how to do it but I don't want this young man beating us in the game and I would like him to get banged on every play,'" Holmgren said. "I said, 'If I look out there, John, and I don't see that happening, I'm going to be upset.'"
The scheme was so effective that it limited Smith to five catches for 33 yards -- though he did have a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown.
So are the Seahawks planning on doing something similar to Smith, who leads the team with 745 yards on 65 receptions?
"We are two totally different teams," Bentley said, "so of course we are going to prepare for them differently."
Not only that, but not as much is at stake, given the Panthers' injury-marred 5-8 season that has generally not included quarterback Jake Delhomme.
Instead, 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde is running the Panthers, though on Thursday Carolina coach John Fox declined to even say if Testaverde is starting.
But the Panthers are 30th in the league in passing, averaging 170 yards a game. The Seahawks, second in the league in sacks, will likely pressure whoever is playing quarterback for the Panthers as much as possible and hope that he never is able to find Smith.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde was held out of practice again on Thursday, increasing the possibility that rookie Matt Moore could make his first NFL start Sunday against Seattle.
Coach John Fox said he wants to play the quarterback that gives his team the best chance to win -- and clearly that is Testaverde.
One thing is for certain -- David Carr will not start for Carolina.
The Panthers listed Testaverde on the injury report as a "team decision," but the reason he's out is basic overall body soreness. There really is no injury category for that.
Testaverde is 44 and when he signed with Carolina earlier this season he didn't think there was any way he'd start five games for the Panthers. He's 2-3 as the team's starter.
Fox said rest is more important than reps for Testaverde at this point.
He is confident Testaverde won't need a lot of reps to play Sunday.
In the meantime, Moore is preparing as though he will start in case Testaverde is still too sore to go.
"As it relates to personnel decisions, we're evaluating the guy who gives us in our opinion the best chance to win," Fox said. "It's not just the quarterback position -- that would be any position."
Fox also said: "We haven't had as consistent a play at the quarterback position for some time now, regardless of the defense and obviously Seattle's playing very well. It'll honestly be who we think this week gives us the best chance to win."
The Panthers are likely to struggle against the Seahawks anyway, but they are likely to have even more problems if Moore starts.
Seattle's defense is second in the league in sacks.
"I don't really think too much about that," Moore said. "I've just got to worry about my game and the offense, whatever, but any defense is going to throw a challenge at you and we've just got to be aware of it and stay on top of it."
Moore has played in six games for Carolina but never started.
"I mean, it would be an opportunity like I've been saying," Moore said. "This week's practice has gone good, yesterday and today have gone pretty good, so if it happens I've just got to go out there and make things happen. Move the ball and just be efficient."