By Dave Thomas

Ask the Seattle Seahawks to admit how they’re doing mentally right now and you might get a wide-range of answers (assuming they are truthful with their responses).

In a game that they had all but won this past Sunday in Cincinnati, the Seahawks watched as Andy Dalton and the Bengals ran-off 20 unanswered points to escape with a 27-24 overtime victory. In the process, the Bengals ran their perfect mark to 5-0, the Seahawks dropped to a disappointing 2-3.

So, where does a Seattle team that many had projected to be right there with Green Bay in the hunt for another NFC crown go from here?

Seattle Looking For Another Confidence Boost

It was just a few weeks ago that the Seahawks had gotten a much-needed confidence boost after losing back-to-back games to start the season.

With tough losses at St. Louis and Green Bay, respectively to start the season, Seattle came home and faced a staggering Chicago team. In the process, the Seahawks rolled to a 26-0 shutout, seemingly reasserting themselves as one of the teams to have to go through in the NFC to get to next February’s Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif.

As many Seahawk fans know, Seattle was lucky to escape with a 13-10 Monday night win a week later against hapless Chicago, this before heading to Ohio and coming away with perhaps the most disappointing loss of the season to date.

How Good Are The Panthers?

While there have been many opinions forecast down upon the Seahawks through five games, there are just as many questions as to exactly how good a 4-0 Carolina team (Seahawks defeated the Panthers in last season’s NFC playoffs 31-17) truly is.

Even though the Panthers are perfect through the first month of the season, they have beaten the likes of Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. If you do the quick math, those four teams are presently a combined 5-15. To say those opponents to date have been underwhelming would be the understatement of the 2015 NFL season.

So, are the Panthers for real or are they just, in-essence, little kitty cats?

Anytime quarterback Cam Newton (809 yards passing, seven TD’s to date on the season) is on the field, Carolina has a good chance of winning. While Newton is not going to challenge Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady for supremacy at the signal caller position, his feet and his ability to make people miss make him a dangerous weapon for the Panthers.

For Seattle, this Sunday’s game is as close to a must-win game as there is.

Lose here and the talk grows louder that head coach Pete Carroll is losing his grip not only on this season, but also what on paper looks to be a very talented team.

Win here and the talk gets put to rest, at least that is for a bit of time.

Either way, it is safe to say that Newton and the Panthers will go into this Sunday’s game with a wad of confidence and the feeling like they truly are the better team.

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 aExaminer.com.

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