Panthers safety Roman Harper declared matter-of-factly, “We are the better team.”
Are they really?
Carolina does own the best record in football at 15-1, but who did they play? They faced three playoff teams in regular season and won all three games. The Panthers came from behind in the 4th quarter to beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in week 6. The Panthers also notched home wins against Green Bay and Washington.
The Panthers faced the Hawks on October 6th, a week after the Hawks squandered another 4th quarter lead at Cincinnati. This was, as 12s recall very well, a stretch of the season where the Hawks were flailing. Seattle played seven regular season games against playoff teams, and dropped the first four.
Over the past seven games, however, Seattle regained its championship swagger, winning 6 of 7, taking down three playoff-bound teams in the process, including the NFC’s #2 seed, Arizona, in dominating fashion. Plus, after that improbable finish in the frigid Wild Card game in Minnesota, the Hawks seem to have some mojo on their side as well.
Former Carolina QB and NFL analyst Steve Beuerlein says, “If Cam Newton plays within himself and plays his game, Seattle doesn’t have a chance.”
Really? I’m not sure if Steve has taken a look at Seattle’s defense, which led the league in fewest points allowed for the 4th straight year, the first team since the 1953-57 Cleveland Browns to accomplish that.
Russell Wilson put up the gaudiest passing numbers in NFL history over the final seven games, and became the first QB in history to pass for more than 4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns and rush for more than 500 yards. I would argue if Russell plays as well as he is capable, Carolina could be in big trouble.
This isn’t the regular season. A 15-1 record means absolutely nothing now. I don’t know if it’s wise for Carolina’s players to poke the bear, especially when that bear is the 2-time defending NFC Champion.
Are the Panthers really the better team? I guess we’ll find out on Sunday, Roman.
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