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Game Preview: Panthers at Seahawks

CHARLOTTE – Measuring stick? Yes.

The whole nine yards? Hardly.

Sunday, the Carolina Panthers can silence both Seattle's 12th man and the considerable crowd of commentators questioning their 4-0 record, in addition to quietening talk that the Seahawks have their number.

That would be sweet, even though it wouldn't be what this team truly has in mind when it comes to just deserts.

"We have to be careful about making this game more than it is. It's our fifth game of the year," tight end Greg Olsen said. "Of course we want to win. Of course we're going to do everything in our power to win this game.

"But we wanted to win last week and we're going to want to win next week. That's the nature of the business. You can't put all your eggs in Week 6."

Olsen was echoing the even-keeled approach advocated by head coach Ron Rivera. Still, Rivera does recognize what a win over the two-time reigning NFC champions, in their much-heralded stadium, would say about how far down the path to ultimate success the Panthers have traveled.

"If you win a game like that, then yes, it can be a statement win. But if you lose the game, it's not the end of your season, which we've already learned around here," Rivera said. "They are the defending NFC champs, and if you want to be the champs, you have to beat them. That's who we're playing, and I don't care what their record is – they're a very good football team that is well coached and has a lot of good football players."

The Seahawks have nothing to prove per se, but they may actually have more to gain because they need to gain ground to continue their recent run of success. At 2-3, a loss could jumpstart chatter that the Seahawks are fading – even if it's idle chatter as a Carolina team that started 3-8-1 last season but made the playoffs can attest.

The Seahawks have won all four of their meetings against the Panthers over the past three seasons, but none of them were easy.

"At the end of the day, we don't care about that. It's all about going out and playing the game," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "Seattle is an extremely tough opponent to play at home, and their record indicates that. They've lost three games on the road and have won both of their games at home, so we understand the challenge at hand. I think we're up for it."

Seattle has won 24 of its last 26 regular season games at CenturyLink Field, setting the stage for the Seahawks to pave their path to the Super Bowl with four home playoff games over the previous two seasons.

"This," quarterback Cam Newton said, "is going to be our first appetizer of playoff football."

Both the Seahawks and their fans have made plenty of noise in recent seasons, and they plan on doing more of the same Sunday.

The Panthers, meanwhile, would love to a chance to savor the sweet sound of silence.

"To me it's fun. That's what I like," defensive end Mario Addison said. "When you can make a crowd turn silent, you know you're doing something right."

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