6. Seattle Seahawks (11-6) at 1. Carolina Panthers (15-1)
TV: noon Sunday, KDFW/4 Line: Panthers by 2 1/2
Playoff records: Seahawks 15-13; Panthers 7-6
Last playoff game: Seahawks won wild-card game 10-9 at Minnesota Vikings, Jan. 10, 2016. Panthers lost divisional game 31-17 at Seattle Seahawks, Jan. 10, 2015.
2015 leaders: Seahawks: QB Russell Wilson 329-483 for 4,024 yards, 34 TDs, 8 INT; RB Thomas Rawls 147-830, 4 TDs; WR Doug Baldwin 78-1,069, 14 TDs. Panthers: QB Cam Newton 296-496 for 3,837 yards, 35 TDs, 10 INT; RB Jonathan Stewart 242-989, 6 TDs; TE Greg Olsen 77-1,104, 7 TDs.
Notable: Rivalry under construction. Introductions won’t be necessary when Seattle and Carolina cross paths. They’ve played five times already since 2012 with Seattle owning a 4-1 edge, including the Seahawks’ 31-17 divisional win last postseason, the only meeting decided by more than five points. While Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have entertained in AFC playoff tug-of-wars for nearly two decades, a new generation could be witnessing the next dynamic duel, Russell Wilson vs. Cam Newton. Wilson’s short career arc includes a 7-2 playoff mark and a split decision in two Super Bowls. Newton is 1-2 in the postseason, but with three division titles and an MVP award likely in the mail. Both will be challenged by ferocious defenses. The Panthers led the NFL with 24 interceptions and the NFC with 44 sacks. Seattle was a few steps back with 37 sacks and 14 interceptions but allowed only 14 passing TDs, fewest in the league. While they would rather be home, the Seahawks are road worriers. In their past six away games, the Seahawks have held opponents to 9, 6, 6, 7, 12 and 3 points. Carolina will be a definite step up in class. The Panthers have won their past 11 at home and haven’t scored fewer than 24 there this season. They also set team records for points (500) and touchdowns (59).
SEAHAWKS: DOUBTFUL: RB Will Tukuafu (hamstring). PROBABLE: DE Michael Bennett (toe), RB Marshawn Lynch (abdomen), TE Luke Willson (concussion). PANTHERS: OUT: RB Fozzy Whittaker (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: WR Ted Ginn Jr. (knee). PROBABLE: DE Kony Ealy (illness).