The Seattle Seahawks found themselves in a dogfight early on with the Carolina Panthers, but as is usual with the NFC South teams, the Panthers kept shooting themselves in the foot until the game finally got away from them. There is no question the better team won.
Russell Wilson was a man possessed on third down, going 8/8 for nearly 200 yards and three touchdown passes on third downs tonight. That's just unreal. Marshawn Lynch was frustrated most of the game, but then he too got himself going late and the wave turned into a tsunami for the Panthers defense, which had played fairly stout until the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton would not find any sort of consistency outside of that one touchdown drive in the first quarter. And the Seahawks defense, masters of feeding off of momentum, just smothers the Panthers offense until the life was completely drained from their hearts.
The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will continue on through Seattle. The Green Bay Packers or the Dallas Cowboys will have to find a way to slay Goliath. After watching this team tonight, it certainly looks like a repeat is in the cards for this team.
For the Denver Broncos, provided they fight their way back to the Super Bowl as well, this means their offense needs to keep playing mean with the run game and keep Peyton Manning's aerial assault to the play-action pass. The Broncos best chance at slaying Goliath is to play Goliath's game. Hard-nosed defense, with some ball control offense. Let loose Emmanuel Sanders deep every now and then, but keep the game close.
Despite the lopsided score, the Panthers played the Seahawks exactly right - they just lacked the talent to overcome their own turnovers and miscues.
The 2014 playoffs is shaping up rather nicely. Now, it would be nice for the #2 seeds from each conference to take care of their business as well.