In six days, the Panthers will host the Seahawks in the divisional round of the playoffs. And the talk already has begun.
“We are the better team,” safety Roman Harper declared Monday, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press.
“We have to go out and show confidence in who we are and the things that we have done all year — and don’t shy away from the pressure,” Harper added.
That’s fine. But it’s one thing to be confident. It’s quite another to give the Seahawks bulletin-board material.
Carolina beat Seattle earlier this year in Seattle, after losing to the Seahawks in the divisional round last year, 31-17. Before that, Seattle had won three straight games by five or fewer points over the Panthers, in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
After two straight years as the No. 1 seed, Seattle entered the current postseason as the No. 6 seed. Which means that the pressure is squarely on the 15-1 Panthers to win at home, something they failed to do two years ago as the No. 2 seed, falling to the 49ers, 23-10.
All that hard work and success by the Panthers throughout the regular season can disappear in three hours on Sunday afternoon. Seattle, which won a game for the ages in Minnesota on Sunday on a missed 27-yard field goal, is riding house money.
So if Carolina is the better team, they’d better be ready to prove it on Sunday. Or they’ll have no pressure at all during the NFC title game, because they won’t be in it.