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Week 6 preview: Panthers at Seahawks

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Carolina Panthers (4-0) at Seattle Seahawks (2-3)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at CenturyLink Field, Seattle – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Sam Rosen, John Lynch, Pam Oliver

*Keys to the game: Panthers QB Cam Newton has been doing an excellent job working with the personnel he has. The passing game ranks 29th in the NFL minus a standout playmaker, but Newton has thrown only two interceptions. The ground game is ranked fourth in the league, but that’s in large part due to Newton averaging nearly 11 carries per game. That is not a recipe for success in Seattle, where the Seahawks sport the league’s No. 7 run defense. SS Kam Chancellor will live in the box as an eighth run defender and dare Newton to challenge the corners in man coverage. Greg Olson leads the Panthers with 17 catches for 243 yards, and tight ends continue to have success exploiting the seam against Seattle.

Seattle’s offensive line remains a massive area of concern after coordinator Darrell Bevell played it close to the vest and watched a 17-point fourth quarter lead evaporate in Cincinnati while the offense failed to move the ball. QB Russell Wilson has been sacked 22 times and escaped countless more. His ability to extend plays with his feet is the main concern, and the Seahawks are planning on RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) returning after a two-game absence. Seattle’s o-line improved in its combo blocking in the ground game last week, but the pass protection remains dreadful.

*Matchup to watch – Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly vs. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch: Both superstars are on pace to return from injury and could meet often as Seattle attempts to establish the ground game early.

*Player spotlight – Panthers WR Jerricho Cotchery: The veteran returns from a two-game absence due to an ankle injury and provides a trusted target. He could find himself lined up often against Cary Williams, who was targeted and struggled mightily in Cincinnati.

*Fast facts: The Panthers have dropped the past five meetings, including a playoff loss in Seattle last season. … The Seahawks’ last four losses dating back to the Super Bowl all came after holding fourth-quarter leads. … Seattle has given up 42 fourth-quarter points through five games after allowing 67 all of last season.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

This is likely to be a blue-collar battle won by turnovers and red-zone production. The Seahawks are 2-0 at home and have their backs against the wall, but Carolina is by far the best opponent to come into CenturyLink this season and isn’t likely to beat itself.

*Our pick: Seahawks 23-20


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