The Carolina Panthers (8-8-1) will head to the Emerald City to face off against defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (12-4) on Jan. 10 at CenturyLink Field. Viewers can watch the Seahawks vs. Panthers game online via live stream - free for subscribers - below.
The NFC divisional playoff will determine whether or not the Seahawks continue in their quest for a second consecutive conference title. According to an article written by OddsShark.com, Seattle's six-game winning streak came against better competition in the NFC West, complete with a perfect 6-0 mark against the spread.
"The Seahawks regained their championship edge over the last third of the regular season and also have their defense to thank for that progress," OddsShark wrote. "They gave up only three touchdowns combined in those six games, and two of them were scored by the Philadelphia Eagles in a 24-14 victory as 1.5-point road favorites in Week 14."
However, Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reported that the Seahawks would face an opponent that in the last two seasons has given them fits.
"Seattle won both of those matchups in Carolina but only by margins of 12-7 (2013) and 13-9 (2014)," Marvez wrote. "While their schemes and personnel are markedly different, the Seahawks and Panthers share plenty of similarities."
Marvez added that the Seahawks were only the second team in NFL history to lead the league in fewest points allowed for three consecutive seasons. In comparison, The Panthers have surrendered an average of 11.8 points in their current five-game winning streak.
The Panthers will be playing in a football stadium that is one of the loudest in the entire NFL. According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, Carolina tried to blunt its effects by piping in crowd noise during their practice sessions on Tuesday.
"It gives it a different feel," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "The guys were excited to be in there and it was kind of neat."
Jones noted that the Panthers also practiced inside the stadium because "the turf has a game feel to it." In addition, the stadium was better able to contain the piped-in crowd noises compared to the team's practice fields.
The key to victory for the Panthers, according to Stephen Cohen of Seattle P-I, will involve using running back and Washington native Jonathan Stewart. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked about Stewart's sense of game play.
"He's a fantastic football player," Carroll said. "I've always loved this kid, the way he runs. He's always been a guy who has a knack to just keep getting through tackles. He looks like he should go down-a lot of guys get tackled-and he just keeps going."
Carroll added that Stewart was "a terrific football player." Despite the praise, he will turn the Seahawk's focus to him on Saturday's game as part of his game strategy.
"That's the first guy we talked about in the running game," Carroll said. "We're talking about we have to get him on the ground, and it's going to take a really great effort of consistent team tackling to do that."