The Seahawks could be seeing a face that is surprisingly familiar in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs next week — that of the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina beat Arizona 27-16 this afternoon to become the first team to advance in the playoffs. And if Dallas beats Detroit at home tomorrow afternoon, then the Panthers will come to Seattle for a game at 5:15 p.m. next Saturday at CenturyLink Field. If Detroit wins, then the Seahawks will face the Lions. Dallas is as much as an eight-point favorite.
If it ends up being Carolina that comes to Seattle, it would be the fourth game between the two teams since Oct. 7, 2012. In something of a scheduling oddity due simply to the way the NFL scheduling formula works, Seattle has played at Carolina each of the last three seasons, winning each time in a close game decided in the final minutes — 16-12 in 2012, 12-7 in 2013 and 13-9 earlier this season.
And if that’s not enough, Carolina will also come to Seattle for the 2015 regular season.
It would be the second playoff game for the Panthers in Seattle, the other coming in the 2006 NFC title game, a 34-14 Seahawks win.
The Panthers also joined the Seahawks in becoming teams with losing records to win playoff games.
Seattle beat New Orleans in 2011 as a 7-9 team that won the NFC West. Carolina won today after taking the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record.
Carolina’s defense feasted on an Arizona offense that again had to go with third-team quarterback Ryan Lindley.
Arizona hasn’t been able to run the ball all season and couldn’t against the Panthers to take any pressure off of Lindley.
That added up to a dominant defensive performance by the Panthers, who held the Cardinals to 77 total yards, the fewest allowed in an NFL playoff game.
UPDATE — Here’s a Carolina view of the Panthers’ possible division round matchups from the Charlotte Observer.