It's the matchup that many fans have been waiting on. The rematch of the 2015 NFC divisional round game between the Seattle Seahawks (10-6) and Carolina Panthers (15-1). While the Seahawks got the best of the Panthers last year 31-17, Carolina got a bit of revenge this year with a 27-23 road victory.
These are two of the hottest teams in the NFL as well, with the Panthers obviously going nearly undefeated, and the Seahawks winning seven of their last eight and nine of their last 10, including their Wild Card victory.
Here's what the Panthers need to do to ensure a W:
1. Let Cam be Cam
In some scenarios, you're going to need to just throw statistics out the window. While the Seahawks were absolutely incredible against opposing quarterbacks during the regular season, allowing just 14 touchdowns and interception 14 passes, it's still Newton's time to shine. The potential MVP of the NFL is smart and talented enough to tuck the ball and take off if nothing is open down field, which is why you need to allow him to play his game. Seattle has allowed three rushing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks, which bodes well for Newton.
2. Use the extra attention on Olsen to open up the field
As mentioned above, it's likely that the Seahawks are going to pay a bit of extra attention to Olsen. While there's still a very good chance that he could have a huge game, the extra attention will also open up the field for Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess as well. Both Ginn and Funchess have proven to be strong playmakers down the home stretch this year, and they may be primed for big roles in this game.
3. Send pressure at Wilson
As Black & Blue Review first reported, the last 10 games of the season for Seattle have been a complete 180 compared to the first seven in terms of their protection of Wilson. It's no surprise that over that 10 game span the team lost just two games, as previously mentioned. Forcing Wilson into uncomfortable spots will be a key for Carolina's defense. Fortunately for the Panthers, they've totaled the No. 6 most sacks in the NFL this year with 44. Expect the likes of Kawann Short and Kony Ealy (for starters) to look to chase down Wilson early and often this weekend.