The NFL playoffs are into the divisional round and in the NFC the Seattle Seahawks will travel to play against the Carolina Panthers next Sunday.
The Seahawks won over the Minnesota Vikings in dramatic fashion this past weekend after Blair Walsh missed a potential game-winning field goal and now the team will visit the number one seeded Panthers. Carolina went 15-1 this season and will have home field advantage in the playoffs for as long as they remain alive in the postseason.
The Seahawks and Panthers played already this season and while the Panthers won that matchup, Seattle was leading in the fourth quarter before allowing Carolina to come back. The Panthers will host the Seahawks at Bank of America Stadium for the early game on Sunday and that will be at 1:05 pm ET and the TV coverage is from FOX.
Cam Newton has had an MVP season, but so has Russell Wilson and those two players will be key for each team this week in the divisional round. Injuries also could play a factor, as both teams are dealing with issues for their starting running backs. Marshawn Lynch sat out of the wild card round for the Seahawks and has not played since November, while Jonathan Stewart has been out for three weeks and could be limited for the playoffs on Sunday.
Lynch was expected to start for the first time in over a month on Sunday against the Vikings, but the running back reportedly felt he was not ready to play after rehabbing from abdominal surgery. Lynch was able to practice leading into the game last week and did not suffer any setbacks, but he was inactive for the wild card round game. The team will be hoping to get Lynch back for this matchup against the Panthers, but if he can't go, Christine Michael likely will start for the team.
The Panthers have played without Jonathan Stewart over the back stretch of the season and head coach Ron Rivera said that he is hopeful that Stewart can play on Sunday. Stewart played in 13 games this season and rushed for 989 yards and his return could be big for the Panthers, who had a week off with a bye in the first round of the playoffs. That extra week could help Stewart get back on the field and having him active would be a nice boost for Newton and the Panther offense.
The Seahawks needed some magic to win on Sunday, as the team came back with 10 points in the fourth quarter after being down 9-0 to Minnesota. The Seahawks held the lead late, but they allowed the Vikings to set up for a potential game winning field goal. Blair Walsh pushed the ball left and missed the chip shot, sending Seattle into the next round.