With the No. 6-seeded Seahawks’ 10-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card round, the team now advances to the divisional round for a road matchup with the Carolina Panthers, who own the NFC’s No. 1 seed after finishing with an NFL-best record of 15-1 in the regular season.
Seattle’s divisional-round matchup with Carolina is set for 10:05 a.m. PT on Sunday, Jan. 17 at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium with national television coverage on FOX (channel 13 in Seattle).
The Panthers, who earned a playoff-bye this weekend, represent a familiar foe for the Seahawks. The two teams met at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field earlier this season, a contest that Carolina won, 27-23. But Seattle has held the advantage over the Panthers in recent seasons. The Seahawks knocked Carolina out of the 2014 playoffs with a 31-17 victory in the divisional round last January in Seattle, and prior to that, the Seahawks topped the Panthers three regular-seasons in a row, earning a 16-12 win in 2012, a 12-7 win in 2013, and a 13-9 victory in 2014, each of which came on the road.
“We’ve been there before,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of facing Carolina following his team’s wild-card win over the Vikings. “We have been in this place before and played some tough games against these guys. They’ve had an incredible season. They have made it look easy. They had so many dominant football games on both sides of the ball.”
Should the Seahawks beat the Panthers and advance to the NFC Championship game, they would face either the No. 5-seeded Green Bay Packers or the NFC East champion and No. 4-seeded Washington Redskins, who square off in the conference’s other wild-card game. Seattle could also face the NFC West champion and No. 2-seeded Arizona Cardinals, who like the Panthers enjoyed a first-round playoff bye.
Just like the Seahawks’ wild-card win over the Vikings and their divisional matchup with the Panthers, the NFC title game would come on the road because Seattle owns the sixth and final seed in conference, assuring the team’s entire path to Super Bowl 50 would be played away from home.
“We realize we’ve got to do this on the road and if we want to do something really special it’s going to take an incredible run here,” Carroll said. “So we’re just doing Carolina and we’re going to do everything we can to see if we can slow them down and find a way to move the football on a great football team and they’re well rested and all that.
“They’ve got all the breaks, we know how good of an advantage it is to be at home after the break, so we’re going to have to play great football.”
The Seahawks are 3-9 all-time in road playoff games, with those three wins coming against the Miami Dolphins in 1983, against the Redskins in 2012, and today against the Vikings at University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
“This is an extraordinary challenge here,” Carroll said of Sunday’s game in Minnesota. “And it’s going to be very similar going to Carolina. Their fans couldn’t be more fired up – and their players – and confident and well-rested and all the rest of it. They deserve to feel all of those things. They’ve earned it. They’ve had an incredible football season. We know what that side is and we’re going to try to climb our way through it and have a good football game next week and see where that leaves us.”