By Dave Thomas
If the Seattle Seahawks are feeling like their season is on the line after five weeks of play, they certainly are not owning up to it.
Once holding a 20-point lead in the second half in Cincinnati last weekend, Seattle (2-3) watched as Andy Dalton and the Bengals pulled a rabbit out of the hat, escaping with a 27-24 overtime victory. It was Seattle’s second overtime loss of the season (lost the opener at St. Louis, 34-31), leaving the Seahawks to wonder when things will turn around.
With Green Bay off to an impressive 5-0 start, and Atlanta (5-1), Carolina (4-0) and Arizona (4-1) all in good positions early in the season, the Seahawks can’t afford to fall too far behind in their quest to make it to a third-straight NFC title game.
So, where do things go from here for Pete Carroll and his bunch?
Is Carolina A True Threat Or A Paper Tiger?
Seattle returns to the friendly confines of the Pacific Northwest for this Sunday’s showdown with a Carolina squad that is unbeaten, yet really untested through four games.
While Carolina has been beating up on the likes of Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, if none of those opponents strike fear in the hearts of Seattle fans, it probably is not a major surprise. Still, Carolina does feature one of the more versatile signal callers in the game in one Cam Newton. If Seattle is to even its record at 3-3, they will need to bottle-up the former Auburn star and make someone else on the offensive side of the ball lead the Panthers.
Meantime, the Seahawks are looking for a full 60-minute performance, something that has been lacking for the most part this season, minus a decisive 26-0 win over Chicago in the home opener. Having a solid performance against one of the NFL’s remaining unbeaten teams will largely focus on being able to run Marshawn Lynch at close to full strength. Lynch, who missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, completed a full practice on Thursday, with Carroll saying he expects his beast in the backfield to be ready to go come Sunday. If Lynch is slowed or even misses a number of series, expect rookie Thomas Rawls to get some carries.
Defensively, Seattle is trying to get a number of players healthy, among those being defensive Demarcus Dobbs (shoulder) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (pectoral). According to the Seahawks, Wagner could be a game-time decision.
No matter who suits up for Seattle this weekend, the game is all but a must-win for a perennial power searching for some identity after five weeks.
Marshawn Lynch, running back (hamstring)
Kevin Pierre-Louis, linebacker (hamstring)
Michael Bennett, defensive end (not injury related)
Frank Clark, defensive end (hamstring)
Brock Coyle, middle linebacker (knee)
Demarcus Dobbs, defensive end (shoulder)
Jordan Hill, defensive tackle (quadriceps)
Nick Moody, linebacker (ankle)
Tye Smith, corner (hip)
Bobby Wagner, linebacker (pectoral)
Marcus Burley, defensive end (hand)
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.