Oddsmakers have established Seattle as an 11-point favorite against Carolina. Beating the Seahawks in Seattle is perhaps the most extreme challenge in the NFL right now. Here are six things that would have to happen in my opinion for Carolina to get there:
1) Jonathan Stewart has to rush for more than 100 yards. Seattle's secondary is the best in the NFL, so it's no wonder Cam Newton struggles against the Seahawks. Remember what the Seahawks did to Peyton Manning in the last Super Bowl? But Stewart has been on such a roll that a great game from him could be a huge difference and a crowd-quieter (he had 79 yards in Carolina's October loss).
2) Carolina can have no more than one total turnover. Preferably, this number would be zero. I think the Panthers could survive one turnover in some circumstances. More than one? No chance.
3) Never fall behind by more than 10 points. This Carolina offense, against that Seattle defense, in that environment? It's not going to work to have to play catch-up. If the Seahawks get ahead by more than 10, it's over. If the Panthers stay close and don't make big mistakes, though -- in other words, Kelvin Benjamin can't drop a ball in the end zone like he did in October (see above picture) -- they will have a chance in the fourth quarter.
4) Two turnovers from Russell Wilson. You're not going to stop Wilson all the time -- he's just too good. But occasionally he will throw a bad pass, and because he runs so often (and takes some sacks because he is so confident in his running ability) the ball is sometimes available. I think Wilson would need to turn it over twice for Carolina to win.
5) Two big plays by relative unknowns. Remember Fozzy Whittaker's 39-yard touchdown off a screen pass last week vs. Arizona? Or Kevin Reddick's fumble recovery inside Arizona's 5? I'm talking about something like that -- twice.
6) Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis have to be "hellacious." That was Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald's word for Nos.58 and 59 last week after both Panther linebackers played a fantastic game in Carolina's 27-16 win. They will have to be just as good vs. Seattle -- and maybe better.