If you ask the fan on a random Emerald City street the Seattle Seahawks are destiny's child to make it to the NFC Championship Game. But on the way to said destiny there is the small matter of the regular season. This Sunday the Hawks begin a journey that they hope will end in New York City the first Sunday in February. The Carolina Panthers provide the opposition on what is Christmas morning for a pro football fan. Opening Day is here!
The Seahawks marched through their second consecutive spotless preseason and come into Carolina relatively healthy and very confident. Only cornerback Brandon Browner and defensive end Cliff Avril are game time decisions from a health standpoint. The Hawks will be led by the power and the fury of running back Marshawn Lynch, and the cool confidence of second year quarterback Russell Wilson.
Defensively the Seahawks were second in the conference to NFC champ San Francisco and believe that they can be even better this year, Seahawks' defensive brass look for big things from linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner during the upcoming campaign.
The Carolina Panthers hope to begin a climb toward the top of the NFC South and would like nothing more than to knock off the favored Seahawks to begin the season. They will be led by quarterback Cam Newton, now in his third year behind center and first year as a team captain. Wide receiver Steve Smith, who earlier this week told espn.com that his team's offense had "gotten too cute" last year, will again be a key receiver for Newton's throws.
Defensively the Panthers hope to improve. Head Coach Ron Rivera believes that an improved defense will be a key to becoming a playoff team. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards' thigh injury, suffered during training camp, will be costly should he not be able to go on Sunday.
Las Vegas lists the Hawks as a three point pick. Right out of the gate it's a tough one because West Coast teams traditionally don't fare well with an early kickoff in the Eastern Time Zone. That said, if the Hawks are who they say they are, this is one they will bank. Take the Seahawks and lay the trey.
The game will be played at Charlotte's' Bank of America Stadium, with kickoff slated for 10:05 a.m. PDT. It is forecast to be sunny and a toasty 85 degrees in the Queen City at kickoff. 89 degrees are expected by the end of the game. Hawks/Panthers can be seen locally on Q13 Fox and outside western Washington on DirecTV Channel 711.