2016 record: 4-7, fourth in the NFC South.
Coach: Ron Rivera (51-38-1 in six years with Carolina and overall).
Series record: The Seahawks lead the regular-season series 5-3, but lost the last meeting 27-23 in Seattle last Oct. 18. But three recent playoff games have been the most memorable games in the series, two won by Seattle and the most recent by Carolina, a 31-24 win in a divisional playoff game in January.
By the numbers
7-12-7-15 Carolina’s annual win totals the last four years, the Panthers hitting double digits in odd-numbered years and stuck at seven in even-numbered years. Carolina has four wins this season, keeping the trend of dipping every-other-year alive.
4.9 Cam Newton’s passer rating for the first half Sunday, a career-low for a half. He finished at 86.3 after throwing two touchdowns in the second half.
Early line: Seahawks by 6½.
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QB Cam Newton: The NFL MVP a year ago has become the symbol of Carolina’s back-to-earth season, dealing with injuries that have contributed to a statistical line nothing at all like he had a year ago. After throwing for 35 touchdowns last season, Newton has just 13, on pace for 19, while his passer rating has also fallen from 99.4 to 81.4. He also hasn’t been the same runner, averaging a career-low 4.2 yards per attempt.
RB Jonathan Stewart: The former Oregon and Timberline High grad battled injuries early in the season that limited him to eight games. But he’s coming off the best game of the year when he had 96 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns at Oakland.
TE Greg Olsen: The 10th-year vet was almost undefendable by Seattle last season with a combined 13 catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns in two games. He’s having a typically solid season, on pace for 84 receptions and 1,149 yards. But he had two critical drops in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders, one on a two-point play and another on a last-ditch drive.
LB Thomas Davis: The 33-year-old outside linebacker remains one of the most productive players in the NFL, having earlier this month scored his first career touchdown on an interception to go along with 71 tackles for the season.
THE PANTHERS’ KEYS TO SUCCESS
A year after just about everything went right for the Panthers just about nothing has. Carolina has lost five of seven games this year decided by three points or less —last season the Panthers were a perfect 5-0 in games decided by five points or less. The trend began on opening night when a missed 50-yard field goal with four seconds left made the difference in a 21-20 loss to Denver. Newton has dealt with some shots to the head, missing one game with a concussion, that have impacted his play and a defense that last year ranked among the best in the NFL, allowing 19.3 points per game, this year is near the bottom at 25.5 (and currently without middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, whose availability this week remains in question due to a concussion) But the biggest current issue is an offensive line that has been wracked by injuries. That compelled Rivera on Monday to say of the offensive line situation that it’s “about as catastrophic as you can get.” The Panthers, though, remain a team with some elite-level talent and Sunday’s game showed that the team is still fighting — the Panthers rallied from a 24-7 deficit at Oakland to take a 32-24 lead in the fourth quarter before letting the Raiders pull out the win.