Seattle Seahawks: Biggest Test Against Carolina Panthers

By Todd Pheifer
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks will start the 2013 season on the road against the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton will be waiting, and one has to assume that the Panthers would like nothing more than to put a dent in the hype surrounding this Seahawks team.

Obviously there are challenges for every football team, but usually there are one or two areas of particular significance that must be monitored early on. The Seahawks are arguably a complete team, but there are some questions that must be answered. For Seattle, the biggest issue may be health.

Fans assume that the offense will be fine. Russell Wilson appears prepared and ready to defeat the myth of the “sophomore slump.” Marshawn Lynch should be able to pound the ball, and he will have a capable backup in Christine Michael. There may be a question about the health of Sidney Rice, but it appears that Wilson has a number of suitable targets.

The defense should also be solid in terms of talent, but it will be interesting to see how one particular group performs. Specifically, the effectiveness of the defense may depend on the ability of the defensive line to contain the run and pressure opposing quarterbacks. That starts with slowing down the mobile Newton.

Chris Clemons remains on the injured list and Bruce Irvin will be suspended for the first four games. Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane have all battled injuries during the preseason, and rookie Jordan Hill was lost to a bicep injury. In other words, the defensive line is not exactly the picture of health.

Certainly, the Seahawks have an excellent secondary and talented linebackers, but a dominant defense needs to start with that push up front. If the Seahawks turn out to be very thin on the defensive line, Newton may have too much time to throw or an abundance of room to run.

Seattle will most likely be fine against the Panthers, but the defensive line is an area of concern. This may be the first big test of a defensive unit that comes into the season with a reputation of being dominant.

Todd Pheifer covers the Seattle Seahawks for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @tpheifer, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.

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