The Seattle Seahawks need a victory in Week 14 over the Carolina Panthers to keep postseason hopes alive. But Seattle is a banged-up group. And the Panthers are not.
Carolina has had an interesting year, to say the least. They have fired their head coach, traded their best player (Christian McCaffrey), and released the quarterback (Baker Mayfield) that started the season. Ironically, for the Seahawks, is that both McCaffrey and Mayfield now play for teams in the NFC West and Seattle will still have to face them this year.
Still, Carolina seems to be a better team now than they were earlier in the season when they had those players and that coach. Maybe coaching was the issue? But you’d still expect a team to regress without the talent they have lost and that’s simply not the case.
The Panthers are healthier than the Seahawks in Week 14
Compounding the struggle for the Seahawks in Week 14 against a feisty Panthers team is that Carolina is the healthier team. Seattle has a number of extremely important players listed as questionable on Sunday. Carolina has four players listed as questionable – LB Cory Littleton, S Xavier Woods, DT Matt Ioannidis, and S Myles Hartsfield – and all are expected to be able to play.
The Seahawks have it worse. While no Seattle players are officially listed as out (yet), five key players are listed as questionable. Those include DK Metcalf (hip), running backs DeeJay Dallas (ankle) and Kenneth Walker III (ankle), safety Ryan Neal (knee), and tight end Will Dissly (calf).
Per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Walker is unlikely to play Sunday. Let’s hope Dallas can go because otherwise Seattle is left with Travis Homer and then a bunch of guys who haven’t played much in Seattle. Tony Jones, Jr. was forced into action in Week 13 and wasn’t awful, but he certainly doesn’t appear to be anywhere near an RB1.
Metcalf is expected to play, though. The Panthers have a decent defense but they lack much depth in the secondary so having Metcalf available allows Tyler Lockett to not be double-covered. Lockett could have a big day against Carolina with his quickness and route-running allowing him to get open over the middle.
Not having Dissly hurts what the Seahawks can do with run-blocking. Neal is needed as he is good against the run and the Panthers are probably going to run a ton in Week 14. I mean, who wouldn’t run against the Seahawks’ poor run defense?