Seattle Seahawks Vs. Carolina Panthers – Is This A Tune-Up Or A Trap Game?

Casey Mabbott, Oregon Sports News

Week one went about as poorly as it could have for Seattle, as they came out flat against the Rams while playing in front of their home crowd in what was supposed to be a great start to their prove-it season after being a surprisingly good team a year ago. Instead, they looked like they didn’t belong on the same field as their division rivals in losing by double digits, something that only happened twice last season.

In week two, the Seahawks looked much better despite traveling to Detroit and playing in the 10 a.m. time slot. Geno Smith looked much more comfortable behind a patchwork offensive line, the running game looked sharp, and the defense made key plays to ensure the team flew home with an overtime win and a lot more confidence.

This week, Seattle hosts Carolina in what is already a must-win game. Not because their season is on the line or because the Panthers present a real test, but because they only have two more games until their very early bye week, and they don’t play at home again for nearly an entire month – not until October 22nd.

Carolina is not just winless so far, they are only averaging 13.5 points on offense and allowing 22 points to their opponents. Making matters worse, they are down one of their best defenders in linebacker Shaq Thompson, and their rookie QB Bryce Young will miss the game as well. Veteran QB Andy Dalton will start in place of Young and will be making his first start since January when he was playing for New Orleans and lost to Carolina 10-7.

Seattle’s rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon saw his first game action last week and looked impressive against one of the more consistent offenses in the league. He didn’t look out of place and played aggressively while not making big mistakes – the best you can ask for from a rookie, especially a rookie coming back from an injury. Safety Jamal Adams is set to return to the field this Sunday, and he will be a welcome addition to a defense suddenly beset with injuries.

This has all the makings of a tune-up game, and Seattle really needs one after a brutal loss at home and an exhausting overtime win on the road. But this also has all the makings of a classic trap game, with an opponent coming to town that handily beat Seattle last year, even if they have a completely different roster and coaching staff now. If that group of coaches watches film from their game in Seattle last year, they will notice they probably should have just run the ball from the first play and not stopped until the end of the 4th quarter, and with the Seahawks carrying a beat-up defensive line into the game Sunday, they may be just as vulnerable to the run as they were last time.

If Seattle wins this game, they will head into a MNF matchup in New York, playing the Giants with the chance to go into their bye week at 3-1. If they lose this game, they will need to go into that game hoping they can get to their week off at .500 with a very long remainder of the season to go.

Geno Smith needs to attack the Carolina defense early and often, the Seattle defense needs to hold the Panthers offense to some early punts, and the Seahawks offense needs to control the clock from there on out. Seattle needs to win this game, but they also need to get healthy, and they don’t need a brutal loss when they just reclaimed their mojo.

Seattle is in 3rd place in the NFC West, behind the 1-1 Rams and the 3-0 49ers and just a step ahead of the 0-2 Cardinals. With a long season ahead of them, they need to win the gimme games and save their energy for the big matchups still to come. It should be a rain-soaked afternoon on Sunday, which should favor Seattle and Pete Carroll’s preferred type of football – run it down their throats until they prove they can stop it.

This isn’t a must-win or season-is-over kind of game; it’s more of a game for Seattle to prove that week one was the gaff and last week’s win on the road in overtime was the real kind of team they are. They are down some key players and have several others playing hurt, but no matter what you have heard, there are no asterisk games. You win the game, or you lose the game, that’s how it works, and Seattle needs to win this one by a good margin. If they struggle to put up points or let a bad team climb into a shootout with them, it could look bad even if they get a win.

This needs to be a tune-up game, but it also needs to be a statement game. Carolina doesn’t belong on the same field as Seattle, but we must see the Seahawks prove it. Many teams look good on paper or have a lot of potential; we need to see the results.

Seattle should cruise to victory 34-10, and anything less than a win by three scores should be considered a disappointment.

@750TheGame | @OregonSportNews

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