The key for the Seahawks defense Sunday is containing third-year Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. And specifically, not letting him run much and keeping him in the pocket and forcing him to be a dropback passer. Seattle essentially did that last year and Newton responded by completing just 12 of 29 passes for 141 yards, with the Seahawks keeping his running to an acceptable seven carries for 42 yards. It’ll take a team effort for Seattle to get it done again, but figure middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and strong safety Kam Chancellor to play particularly vital roles in keeping Newton in check.
Unleash the Beast (Mode)
Marshawn Lynch had just five carries (for 9 yards) in the exhibition season. He could have that many midway through the first series at Carolina as the Seahawks will finally take the wraps off Lynch, as well as receiver Sidney Rice and tight end Zach Miller, and make their offense whole. It won’t be easy to run on what projects as a salty Carolina defensive front, one that held Seattle to 98 yards rushing on 35 attempts last year. But Seattle will need to force-feed Lynch to set up Russell Wilson’s zone-read running and the passing attack.
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Rise and Shine
Much has been made of the Seahawks’ struggles in games that start at 10 a.m. Seattle time, including by the Seahawks themselves with coach Pete Carroll deciding to start most preseason practices at that time. And Seattle had better get used to it as it has five 10 a.m. games this year, beginning with the trip to Carolina. Seattle also often struggled to get going on the road last season, including both playoff games when it fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter at Washington, and 20-0 at halftime against Atlanta. Carroll good-naturedly protested this week that Seattle wasn’t trying to play from behind. “We weren’t rope-a-doping it last year,’’ he said. “It may have looked like that, but we weren’t.’’ Suffice to say, the road to victory will be easier without falling into a similar hole at Carolina.