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The Panthers have begun talking about the Seahawks: ‘You want the tough team, man’

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SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 10: Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks gets tackled by Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers during the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at CenturyLink Field on January 10, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – The Carolina Panthers had a long wait to find out who their opponent would be in the NFC divisional playoffs, and now that they know it’s the Seattle Seahawks, they’ve got a lot to say.

As you might expect, it runs the gamut from respectful to disrespectful, from thoughtful to flippant.

“You want the tough team, man,” Panthers defensive back Josh Norman said Monday. “I don’t know why you want the easy way out. That’s not the way you should live life, taking the easy way out. You always want to do something the hard way, just because it means that much more.”

The Panthers remember their come-from-behind win over the Seahawks in Seattle just as well as the Seahawks do. And they also remember that the Seahawks beat them 31-17 in the playoffs last January, just as well as the Seahawks do.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think we were ready for it (last year),” Panthers safety Roman Harper said. “We were excited to be there and have a ticket to the dance.

“(This year) we have a better-looking date because we’re 15-1 and at home. This year we are looking forward to them having to come here.”

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said the team’s victory in Seattle, in which the Panthers trailed 20-7, proved pivotal in building the confidence they needed to build a 15-1 season.

“To me, they were the elite of the NFC,” Rivera said. “And going there and being able to win really helped validate who we are as a football team. We still have a long ways to go. But the best part about it, more than anything else, is we’ve proven to ourselves we can do it.”

Harper took it a step further, saying the Panthers believe they’re flat-out better than the Hawks.

“We are the better team,” he said. “We have to go out and show confidence in who we are and the things that we have done all year—and don’t shy away from the pressure.”

Norman said the matchup gives the Panthers a chance to avenge last year’s playoff lost – and to prove beyond a doubt that they’re the best team in the NFC.

“Why? Why would you want anything in life that is easy?” he asked. “Shoot, man, if you don’t go for it head on, then how can you say you are the best at anything? I think that is the way we are in our society. We want things the easy way and stuff to be given to us. We don’t want to work for it. We want things to be handed to us. I don’t think that’s the way it should be done.”