PANTHERS vs SEAHAWKS
This-- in the strictest mathematical sense of the word-- is not a CRITICAL game for the Panthers. Seattle's NOT a divisional opponent. Almost everyone-- including most football analysts with ESPN, FoxSports, and the NFL Network, believe that Seattle will win the game, especially because it's being played on the Seahawks home field. Even if we lose, we will still be TIED (at 4-1) for the NFC South division lead with the Atlanta Falcons.
Having said THAT, this is still a HUGE game for the Carolina Panthers. Why? Because Seattle is one of our toughest rivals. Because they beat us last year in the divisional playoffs and kept us from advancing to the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. And because the Seahawks have won the last five matchups and lead the Carolina-Seattle series 7-2 since 2000.
No-- a loss won't kill our season. But a WIN will catapault our already sky-high momentum into the statosphere. The Seahawks game marks perhaps the most difficult opponent in a four-game stretch of difficult games, in which the other three games will be at home. Seattle-- Philadelphia-- Indianapolis-- Green Bay. If we manage a better than passing grade against this opposition, the rest of the season will seem like a cakewalk in comparison. Only a Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys and three more division games against the Falcons/Saints stand in our way to a third straight NFC South title and a top spot in the playoffs.
SO-- not critical-- but Huge. Get out of the way, Seahawks. Here comes the Panthers locomotive. Super Bowl-- here we come!