Ask Bryan: Red zone riddle


Looking back at the Seattle game earlier this season, the Panthers made way too many mistakes on offense. How do you see them eliminating those mistakes and get into the end zone instead of kicking field goals? – Jared in Kings Mountain, N.C.

Neither team converted any of their three red zone opportunities into touchdowns in the teams' Week 8 meeting, but the one touchdown of the game – a 23-yard pass play with 47 seconds left – was the difference in Seattle's 13-9 victory.

The first challenge against a Seahawks defense that was the only unit in the NFL to give up fewer than 300 yards per game for the second consecutive season is getting to the red zone. Seattle allowed an NFL-low 37 drives to reach the 20-yard line in the regular season. Once teams reached the red zone, the Seahawks were human. They allowed touchdowns on 59.5 percent of red zone drives – sixth-worst in the NFC – but because of the lack of red zone chances in the first place, only three teams league-wide surrendered fewer than Seattle's 22 red zone touchdowns.

In the first game, Carolina reached the red zone three times. They couldn't overcome a 7-yard loss on first down on the first drive and settled for a field goal. The other two were more frustrating. From the Seattle 7, two Seahawks penalties gave the Panthers five cracks at it, but they couldn't convert and instead kicked a chip shot field goal. The other chance didn't even net a field goal, as miscommunication on a zone read led to a lost fumble at the Seattle 16.

Nothing's going to come easy against the Seahawks defense, but the same stands for the Seattle offense against the Carolina defense. In the teams' three matchups since 2012, the Panthers have just one touchdown in six red zone opportunities, while the Seahawks have just one touchdown in nine red zone chances. Obviously touchdowns are preferable to field goals, but field goals are preferable to nothing.

Any talk of a fan package to Seattle? - Terry in Wilson, N.C.

Panthers travel partner PrimeSport is offering a ticket/hotel package to Seattle, and it's an affordable option for such a long trip and big game, especially if you have friends or family interested as well. Get all the details.

What television stations will broadcast the Panthers vs Seahawks game? Hopefully one of the local stations, as I cannot get ESPN. – Renee in Charlotte

If a trip to your couch rather than the Pacific Northwest is in your plans, all you need is a TV and old-fashioned rabbit ears (and one of those digital converter boxes). While the Panthers-Cardinals game was the first NFL playoff game broadcast on ESPN – and the eighth-most-watched telecast in the history of cable television – the Panthers-Seahawks game will air on FOX with an 8:15 p.m. kickoff Saturday.

Who do the Panthers play at home and away in 2015? – Felix in Charlotte

Well, another trip to Seattle is on the docket, along with home games against Green Bay and Indianapolis. Check out all the matchups.

Thank you broadcast team and staff writers! As a Panthers fan living in California, I rely on your website for all my Panthers information. This year the amount of information and quality of information has been exceptional. My whole hearted THANKS to you all. You're as important to the organization as the players in my book. Thank you for an outstanding 2014 season. – Albert in Bakersfield, Calif.

Albert, I don't know what to say in response to such kind words. Just know that our goal is to keep Panthers fans like yourself informed and entertained before, during and after the season. We're glad to have you and many others like you onboard. Thank you for your support and feedback.

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