How Cam Newton and Russell Wilson can exploit two top defenses

Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will both face two of the NFL's best defenses on Sunday. Getty Images

Back in Week 6, the Carolina Panthers put together a fourth-quarter run on the road to get a 27-23 comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks. It was the start of Cam Newton's MVP parade as the quarterback took the game over late (98.6 QBR in the fourth quarter). It also led to more questions about the Seahawks' inability to close the door after blowing their fourth fourth-quarter lead in six games.

Sure, that tape from Week 6 can help us prep for the rematch this Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs, but it also points to two teams -- especially on the offensive side of the ball -- that have changed quite a bit over the course of the season.

The biggest question heading into Sunday: Can Newton and Russell Wilson move the ball consistently against two championship-level defenses? Let's look at three offensive keys for both Carolina and Seattle, as they get ready to play for a ticket to the NFC championship game.

Carolina's keys

Attack three-deep coverage

Newton struggled throwing the ball down the field in Week 6 (2-of-12 on passes thrown at least 15 yards, two interceptions), but the Panthers can script more high-percentage throws to avoid safety Earl Thomas when Seattle plays its bread-and-butter Cover 3 scheme. I wouldn't expect to see a lot of Cover 2 after the Seahawks gave up two plays in the final drive against Carolina in Week 6, including the busted coverage on the game-winner to Greg Olsen.

The Panthers need to attack the seams and intermediate zones on Sunday. That's the weakest point of the defense. This could be an inside seam to Olsen, the skinny post/slant to a much-improved Devin Funchess or the play-action concepts that force the linebackers to step downhill. Those are high-percentage throws for Newton, and he can thread the ball into tight windows given his ridiculous arm strength.