CHARLOTTE – The greatest players embrace the greatest challenges. Cam Newton's reaction to facing the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC Divisional Playoff? That's the way it should be.
"A lot of guys are whispering that we wouldn't want it any other way. That's kind of must-see TV," Newton said. "That's why you come to the league. You eye matchups like this."
This matchup is filled with intrigue. The top-seeded, party-crashing 15-1 Panthers one on side; the two-time NFC champion Seahawks on the other.
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and there's certainly a lot of familiarity between these squads. Sunday's game will be the sixth matchup in the last four seasons. Newton claimed victory over Seattle for the first time in his career back in Week 6.
"We've become accustomed to playing them the last couple years," Newton said. "They are a good team, we understand that. They have great talent, they're coached really well and so are we. This is going to tell a lot about our team."
The postseason reveals a lot about every team that participates. For quarterbacks, whose win-loss records are constantly analyzed, playoff outcomes shape their legacy.
Newton is 1-2 in the postseason. He earned his first playoff victory last year in the Wild Card round against the Arizona Cardinals before falling to Seattle in the Divisional round.
"(Playoff experience) means a lot," Newton said. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't, because playoff football is different than any other. So much emotion goes into it.
"My record is not what I want it to be. For us, we're excited for the opportunity. We've been feeling extremely confident in each and every game we've played, and this game is nothing different."
This game is the biggest one yet, but Newton and the Panthers must maintain the even-keeled approach that has worked well for them all season.
"The moment hasn't been too big for anybody on our team," Newton said.
That's because the Panthers are doing it together. That's the way it's been all year long as Carolina's success became a national story. And that's the way it will be with the season on the line Sunday afternoon.
"Everybody is pitching in and saying, 'You know what, let's sell out for each other,'" Newton said. "You see it come game day. We all are invested in some way shape or form, and it shows."
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Seahawks.