Six experts weigh in: The ONE thing to watch for in today’s playoff game

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Seattle Seahawks vs Tennessee Titans; Russell Wilson

SEATTLE — Not that long ago the Seahawks were 6-4.

If we think back on those days, we remember a lot of hand-wringing. The Seahawks had just come off a tough 24-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and questions were rolling in faster than injuries to the Seahawks’ offensive line. Can the Hawks score without a clear, number one wide receiver like Percy Harvin? Can Beast Mode be relied on? And what about the defense, has the Legion of Boom lost a step or two?

Well, thankfully those questions were answered when the Hawks won six in a row and, for the second time in two years, secured a first round playoff bye and home field advantage throughout.

Order was restored in those six wins. A collective sigh of relief went up from the Q13 FOX newsroom.

But maybe, MAYBE, as the Seahawks enter today heavy, 11-point favorites, some doubt lingers on. Thoughts of losing to the Dallas Cowboys at home. Of looking lifeless against the San Diego Chargers. Thoughts like these dampen utter confidence, maybe?

I mean, it’s only human to doubt.

So we had the Q13 FOX News experts weigh in. What’s the one thing, a single thing they’re watching for in Saturday’s game. What aspect of the game — from running, to containing Cam Newton to a defensive shut down — that if the Seahawks dominate, means a sure win. What’s the one thing the experts are watching? Because if the Hawks can do that one thing, then little stands in their way to going to playing the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field.

Without further ado, we give you the one things six football experts are watching for today.

Matt Lorch, Q13 FOX News anchor and Seattle native 

The Seahawks Offensive successes

“I’ll be paying close attention to the Seahawks offense.  We know this Seahawks D is going to show up and deliver. But the Panthers defense has been playing at a high level over the last few games.  If we can move the ball with consistency against this defense… bring on the Packers or Cowboys!”

Michelle Ludtka, Q13 FOX Sports reporter and Seattle native 

Can Cam Newton overcome his historic struggles with the Hawks?

“I’m interested in seeing how Cam Newton adjusts to the Seahawks defense. Historically, he’s struggled against the Seattle throwing only one touchdown in their last three meetings and averages fifty less passing yards against them. In the run game, where he seems to excel, Cam rushes 1.2 less yards per carry when facing the Hawks.”

Bill Wixey, Q13 FOX News This Morning anchor and Seattle sports fanatic 

How the defense handles Panthers QB Cam Newton 

“Cam Newton has never faced anything like what he will experience Saturday at CenturyLink Field. Newton is a poor man’s Colin Kaepernick. I fully expect him to fall to pieces just like Kaep s done at the Clink Every. Single. Time.”

Brien Blakely, Q13 FOX News This Morning anchor, reporter and former Cincinnati Reds Draft Pick

Can Cam Newton handle the noise at CenturyLink Field? 

“How rattled will Panthers QB Cam Newton get, first. from the Hawks Defense and second, from the 12s at CenturyLink Field.  It’s Newton’s first time playing here.  Look for how many turnovers are created, especially in the 2nd half, when the Hawks turn it on.”

Aaron Levine, Q13 FOX News Sports Director 

Can the Hawks get out to a strong start? 

“I know this defense can hold its own, especially at home. I’d love to see some offensive firepower in the first half – a strong start, something that’s been lacking in some of the games during this six-game winning streak. Taking advantage of Red Zone opportunities, and putting points on the board, which has been difficult the last three years in Carolina.”

Ian Furness, Q13 FOX Sports correspondent and longtime host of KJR Sports Radio 

Will Max Unger’s return be a shot of adrenaline to the Hawks offense? 

“What type of impact does the return of Max Unger have on the offense? Pete Carroll said the offensive numbers are better all around when he is in the lineup, and remember, he didn’t play in the first meeting of the season with these two teams.”

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