Panther fans know that this game is huge for many reasons. Namely, the ability to take a seat at the big boy’s table of the respected teams in the NFC. Also at stake is sole possession of first place in the NFC South. Most importantly to me is the fact that every single game this year is going to loom large since both the Panthers and the Falcons seem destined for a solid year. And though a Wild Card spot could be up for grabs, the only way to assure yourself a playoff spot is to win your division. So winning this Sunday is absolutely huge. Can we win this one? Sure. Will we win this one? I dunno. Hope so, but just dunno. Here are the three keys to the game in my opinion and the winner takes two out of three of these categories:
1- Whichever QB has the best total yards to turnover ratio
Here’s an interesting stat that I haven’t seen anywhere but is key to me. Cam Newton has 1,004 total yards (809 passing and 195 rushing) and has two turnovers through four games. That means he’s averaging 251 yards of Offense and ½ of a turnover per game. I’ll give this a score of 502 (average yards for each turnover). Russell Wilson, on the other hand has 1,390 (1,192 passing and 198 rushing) and three turnovers in five games. That means Wilson is averaging 278 yards per game and .6 turnovers per game. For a score of 463 (average yards per turnover).
Through a quarter of the season, this is too close to call and pretty much says they are very similar to one another in terms of what they mean for their team. Whomever has the better ratio this Sunday puts their team in the best position to win.
Prediction: Ratio is a tie
2- Whichever team has the most rushing yards
For all of the Seahawk naysayers out there, they do lead the league in rushing yards per game with 142.2. While in comparison the Panthers are in a surprising and respectable 4th place with 132.4 yards per game. Beast Mode looks to make his return this week and Stewart should be the healthiest he’s been since Week 1. And with both QBs Beasts in their own right, running the ball, whomever totals more as a team is a key stat.
Prediction: Seahawks have the edge in rushing yards to win this stat
3- Best play from the Mike position looms large
One of the most under-discussed aspects of this game is the two best Middle Linebackers in the game playing on Sunday. Or will they? Panther fans everywhere are dancing a jig this week with news of Luuuuuke Kuechly returning after a 3.6 game absence. But Bobby Wagner, who is just as important to the Seahawks Defense as Luke is to Carolinas’, is listed as questionable. He suffered a pectoral injury against the Bengals last week and is a game time decision. If he doesn’t go, this is a huge blow to the Seahawks and could be the difference in this game. Even if he does play, don’t look for him to be 100% and the Panthers could look to test him early.
Prediction: Luke outplays Wagner
So, which team do you think wins two out of the above three categories? It truly could go either way. This may be the Panthers best shot at beating the Seahawks in Seattle, but I would not be shocked if we don’t get another crack at them in say January in Charlotte. But I see the Seahawks squeaking out this win. Hope I’m wrong. What do you think?
Posted by: Mel Mayock