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It's “Crunch Time” for Panthers

Sharon Thorsland
November 23, 2018 - 3:57 pm

The Panthers are looking to get back on track Sunday when they welcome their rival from the west to Bank of America Stadium. The Seattle Seahawks are coming to town, bringing with them their number one ranked rushing attack. They're 5-5 on the season after an exciting win over Green Bay last Thursday night. The Panthers are 6-4 coming off a one-point loss to the Lions.

The Seahawks have a three-headed monster at running back and average 154 rushing yards per game. Rookie Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson are big, fast backs who've combined for nearly 900 yards and four touchdowns. Former Gamecock Mike Davis is also a threat at receiver, he's got 506 combined yards and four touchdowns. And of course, there's quarterback Russell Wilson. The former NC State standout is a dual threat - he's thrown for 2200 yards with 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and has also rushed for 227 yards. But the Panthers run defense has quietly become one of the best in the league – they rank 8th in the NFL allowing just 98 rushing yards a contest.

Seattle's passing game isn't so great, the Seahawks average just under 197 yards a game, that's 27th in the league. But they've got some weapons - Wilson's favorite target is slot receiver Tyler Lockett, he leads the team with 38 catches and his seven touchdowns rank 5th in the NFL. Lockett teams with Pro Bowler Doug Baldwin and 2nd-year player David Moore. And keep an eye out for former Clemson standout Jaron Brown – he's only got eight catches but three of them went for touchdowns. Former Panther Ed Dickson is also in the mix.

The Seahawks defense had a total makeover in the offseason - the “Legion of Boom” is gone. Safety Earl Thomas is all that's left, but he broke his leg in week four after notching three interceptions. So now a group of young players are stepping up, including 2nd-year player Tedric Thompson and rookie Tre Flowers. The Seahawks have one of best linebacking corps in the league, anchored by All-Pro Bobby Wagner. Up front defensive end, Frank Clark has been a force – he leads the team and ranks third in the NFL with 10 sacks, and also has three forced fumbles and an interception. But don't count out the Panthers running attack – they rank 7th in the NFL averaging 130 yards per game.

These teams have played each other six times over the past five seasons, most recently in the 2016 playoffs. They've built up quite a rivalry, and this game has the makings of another good one - with just six games left in the regular season, this one has playoff implications. And the Panthers know just how important this game is. “You know we haven't been playing well the past couple of weeks,” said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. “But at the same time, we know what time it is – it's crunch time for us. It's definitely going to be like a playoff game, so we gotta come out and be ready to roll.”

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