Sunday's game will feature two of the most-dynamic young quarterbacks in football with Cam Newton beginning his third year for Carolina and Russell Wilson entering his sophomore campaign for the Seahawks. While both quarterbacks struggled in the matchup a year ago, Sunday's game could have more of an offensive feel with a couple of key defenders possibly sitting out.
Meet the Panthers
Following a 5-1 close to the 2012 season, the Panthers are considered to be a possible breakout team in 2013. Newton played well down the stretch, helping Carolina close the season with four straight wins. The Panthers return many of the same players on offense and Newton will once again rely on Steve Smith as the go-to target.
Against Seattle last season, Newton threw for just 141 yards and Carolina gained just 190 total yards. Despite the struggles, Carolina had a chance to win last year's game, but could not score from the one-yard line.
Carolina's defense will look slightly different this season with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short bolstering the defensive line. The Panthers may need both rookies inside with starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards questionable due to a thigh injury.
Meet the Seahawks
When the Seahawks beat Carolina last season, they were a defensive team trying to get by with a struggling rookie quarterback. It wasn't long after the Panthers game, Wilson began to excel and the Seahawks took off. Now, almost a year later, the Seahawks open the season as a Super Bowl contender.
Wilson finished the season as well as any quarterback and now all eyes are on him to see how he responds in his second season. The Seahawks have a deep roster, but will be without several key players. Percy Harvin is out until likely at least midseason and defensive end Chris Clemons will not play against the Panthers. Starting cornerback Brandon Browner is questionable. He was one of the key players in last year's game and forced a crucial fumble.
Local Takes: Panthers
Connor Harrison from Cat Scratch Reader took a closer look at the game and how the 1 p.m. ET start time may help the Panthers:
Seattle is a whole new team when it's early in the AM and have to play outside of their 12th man.
Last year Seattle played four road games at 10 a.m. PT, and lost all but one -- which was an OT nailbiter in Chicago. Losses came against Detroit, Miami and St. Louis, all of which finished in the lower half of the standings.
Local Takes: Seahawks
Danny Kelly of Field Goals examined the matchup between Seattle's power running game and Carolina's front seven. How will the strength-on-strength matchup impact the game?:
So, what will Darrell Bevell do if Seattle's stubborn adherence to the zone running game stalls the offense? He's not going to go away from it completely -- he demonstrated that much last year -- but there are some bootleg, moving pocket, and misdirection elements of the play-action game that Seattle can use to keep Carolina's excellent front seven honest and exploit their weakness on the back four. This goes back to the constraint play idea -- if your bread and butter isn't working, what can you do to re-set and put the defense on their heels?
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Cat Scratch Reader and Field Gulls, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Captain Cam, and the rest of the 2013 Carolina Panthers captains http://t.co/R6Sd9LUJvA— Cat Scratch Reader (@CatScratchReadr) September 5, 2013
@josephperson -- Panthers beat writer
Rivera said he's a little concerned about Mitchell, who had a setback w/ calf.— Joe Person (@josephperson) September 5, 2013
@bcondotta -- Seahawks beat writer
From SB Nation's Week 1 picks:
That line seems low, considering how many pundits have Seattle as a Super Bowl pick. Traveling from the West Coast for a 1 p.m. game on the East Coast isn't easy, and the Seahawks have struggled with that in the past. Expect that to change this year.
The Seahawks opened as a 3.5-point favorite despite being on the road, according to Odds Shark. The odds have held in place with the total set at 45.5.
Carolina will go on the road in Week 2, traveling to Buffalo to play the Bills.
Seattle will play its home opener next week against division-rival San Francisco.