Setting the table: After the events of Week 11, Seattle now holds the cards in determining their postseason fate.
A win on Sunday would jump the Seahawks (5-5) ahead of the Panthers (6-4) in the standings and into the second wild card spot, thanks to the benefit of the head-to-head advantage. But securing a win in a stadium where Carolina has won 10 straight dating back to last season will be no small feat.
Both teams may want to be careful not to over do it on Thanksgiving to avoid slipping on what is already a very slim margin of error.
Russell the Reliable: There hasn't been a single NFL Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hasn't shown up for since entering the league in 2012.
In Week 11 against the Packers, Wilson led a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive midway through the last frame to position Seattle for a 27-24 Thursday night win, earning his 20th career fourth-quarter comeback and 25th career game-winning drive. In that game, Wilson was brought down three times, the fewest since Week 7.
In the wins, Wilson has averaged 211.8 yards per game, completed 70.7 percent of his passes and has thrown 10 touchdowns to one interception. His numbers in the losses - 226.6 yards per game on 63 percent completion with 13 touchdowns to four picks - aren't that far off, but the biggest difference seems to be that Wilson was sacked 22 times in the defeats to just 10 in the victories. And we know Wilson is always dangerous with his feet -- he has 227 rushing yards on 27 carries.
In five all-time regular season meetings against Carolina, Wilson boasts a 4-1 record, with the last meeting being a 40-7 victory for Seattle in 2016. In those games, Wilson has completed 69.2 percent of his passes, thrown for 251.6 yards per game and tossed five touchdowns. He's also rushed for 136 yards on 27 carries.
Unlike two seasons ago, when Seattle ruled the NFC West, Wilson and his squad will be playing from behind in the standings after the up and down season they've had through 10 games.
Seattle's lineup has changed on both sides of the ball since 2016, but Wilson still has familiar targets in wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin. Lockett has posted 38 receptions for 554 yards and is ranked top 10 in touchdowns with seven while Baldwin has contributed 30 receptions for 327 yards and a score despite battling injuries. Expect tight ends Nick Vannett and ex-Panther Ed Dickson to be factors as well.
Seattle ranks 14th in points per game (24.6) and 20th in total yards per game (351.1), but Wilson has proven time and time again that all he needs is a little bit to make a lot happen.
Defensive resurgence? Roll call! If you read off the names of the defensive lineup that made Seattle one of the toughest groups of all-time a couple years ago, you would quickly realize these current guys aren't those guys.
Gone are the days of the Legion of Boom, and although some of the key pieces, minus current 49er Richard Sherman, remain on the roster, they are either on IR (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor) or hampered by nagging injuries (KJ Wright).
In their place, new faces have emerged as playmakers outside of that shadow. Chief among them have been defensive tackle Jarran Reed and defensive end Frank Clark. Both are former Seattle second round draft picks (Clark in 2015, Reed in 2016) who sharpened their skills during that dominant stretch from 2015-16.
Clark has racked up 10 sacks in 2018, tying him for the fourth most in the NFL. He also has two pass deflections, one interception and three forced fumbles. Reed has 34 tackles and is tied for the 13th most sacks (5.5).
Outside of this tandem, Bobby Wagner (74 tackles, 0 sacks), who was also a part of "LOB", and fellow linebacker Barkevious Mingo have joined a versatile secondary that includes safeties Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson and cornerback Shaquill Griffin to help create a new defensive identity.
Under first-year coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who replaced LOB architect Kris Richard in the offseason, the Seahawks have allowed the eight fewest points per game (21.6) and are holding teams to a 58.62 percent success rate in the red zone. They are also tied for the 10th most sacks (28) and allowing the 11th fewest yards per game (348.1).
Three backs are better than one? It's hard to replace a beast, but having three capable runners in its place is a solid consolation prize.
Sure, Marshawn Lynch never went full "Beast Mode" in his three regular season visits to Carolina during his time in Seattle, but his ability to pace the offense was vital to their gameplan.
For the 2018 Seahawks, the run game as a whole has reached new uncharted heights under first-year coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Chris Carson, Mike Davis and rookie Rashaad Penny give Seattle the league's only trio of backs to have tallied at least 300 rushing yards each.
This feat also represents a 2-for-1 of sorts as Seattle now occupies the top spot as the NFL's best rushing attack (154.3 yards per game), a spot once held by Carolina earlier this season.
With Carson, Davis and Penny all averaging at least six carries a game and the Seahawks riding a seven-game streak of 150-plus rushing yards, Sunday's game could provide an exciting foot race to the finish line.
Carolina has played Seattle eight times since 2013. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 9-4.