By defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-16 Saturday, the Panthers advanced to play in the NFC Divisional Round for the second consecutive year, but they won’t know their opponent until Sunday evening.
Carolina will play at either Seattle or Green Bay next week, and their destination hinges on the outcome of the Dallas-Detroit game.
The divisional round pits the No. 1 seed against the lowest remaining seed. If the sixth-seeded Lions lose to the Cowboys, the No. 5 Panthers will go to top-seeded Seattle on Saturday for an 8:15 p.m. kickoff. But if Detroit defeats Dallas, Carolina will go to No. 2 Green Bay on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Here’s a look at how the Panthers match up against the two teams:
The Panthers lost to Seattle 13-9 in Week 8 this season, and Carolina has played close games against the Seahawks in each of the past three seasons. The Panthers have lost all three games by a combined 13 points.
Carolina matches up well with the Seahawks on paper. The Panthers have been able to contain quarterback Russell Wilson for the most part in their three meetings, and the Panthers’ rush defense has solidified in the past month.
But Seattle’s defense has given Cam Newton fits. He has averaged 145.6 passing yards and thrown one touchdown and one interception in his games against the Seahawks.
But all three of those games have been in Charlotte. The Seahawks are 26-2 at home, including the playoffs, in the past three seasons.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have plenty of offensive firepower, and the Panthers got just about all of it in their Week 7 match at Lambeau Field.
The Packers embarrassed the Panthers 38-17 in a game that was never close. The Panthers got no pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Carolina’s secondary was too slow to keep up with the Packers’ receivers.
The Panthers have gotten more speed in their defensive backfield, and the defensive line has gotten to the quarterback more in the past five weeks.
But the same home-field advantage Seattle enjoys applies in Green Bay. The Packers, at home, in January are usually very difficult to beat. The Packers are 16-5 all-time in home playoff games, but they have lost 3 of 4 since 2008, including a 23-20 loss last season to San Francisco in the wild-card round.