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Week 1 Outlook: Seahawks vs. Panthers

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Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have the keys to a win in the first game of the season against the Panthers. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)
Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have the keys to a win in the first game of the season against the Panthers. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

Here we go. Finally some real NFL action as we look at Seattle's first matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks are hot with a perfect preseason streak, and there’s no reason to think they’re going to stop now. The team's depth and physical dominance is impressive. Their running game alone should be enough to outscore the Panthers in Charlotte. Russell Wilson is healthy and the Seahawks looked like a hungry bunch dominating every snap from the beginning to the end this summer.

Last year, a young and inexperienced Seahawks team went to Carolina and defeated the Panthers in style. Wilson was new and still quite rusty. A year later, Wilson has matured. He is the undisputed leader of the team and has acquired the right presence of mind to approach every game. There is no doubt the main focus of the offense will be Marshawn Lynch. His success early on will determine if Wilson can start throwing deep after the defense opens up.

Expect rookie Christine Michael to take a few snaps away from Lynch, so Pete Carroll can check out his star backup against a starting D-line. The Seahawks' defense is among the best in the NFL. Starting from the cornerbacks, all the way to powerful defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, this team is stacked. The Seahawks are going to win the battle in the trenches; the secondary will make it difficult for Cam Newton to throw the ball deep.

Newton’s second year was a disaster. Then again, he didn’t have the cast to support his unique skill set. Expect him to explore the run-option play. If the Seahawks can stop Newton from running for more than 100 yards, they will win the game. Of course, there are other threats to worry about. If the Panthers want a chance to win, they will need the duo of DeAngelo Williams and Kenjon Barner to step up. Newton’s supporting cast has improved, too, with the addition of receiver Ted Ginn Jr.

Much has been said about the Seahawks' expectations. The hype is there, but they still have to compete every single game to reach the Super Bowl. Seattle enters the season opener as favorites to win but on the field anything can happen, especially with a man named Cam Newton on the other side of the field.